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CS Research Exercises  

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Computer Science Research Exercises

First, bring up the Web page for this class:

  • Go to the Library home page (
  • Under Library Instruction, click on Course Related Instruction
  • Click on CS Research Exercises
  • Bookmark/Favorite this page for quick access.

Next, open a Word document in which to type your answers for these exercises. You will need to save your document to a flash drive, or save it to the desktop (Choose the version of Word you use at home, or .rtf if you have a Mac.) and then email it to yourself as an attachment.

Exercise 1: Why We Cite Sources

When you research a topic, you use different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.). The sources that you use must be cited in the text of your paper and at the end of your paper in a bibliography. This is required for two primary reasons:

  • Citations give credit to the authors/creators of the sources you have used in your research. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property - if you use another person’s words or ideas without giving proper credit, it is plagiarism. Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is a serious offense in both educational and professional environments.

  • By citing your sources in the proper format, your readers will have all of the data necessary to identify and locate your materials, so that your information can be verified. This gives your work credibility and strengthens your arguments.

To gain an even deeper understanding of why we cite, view this presentation: “Why We Cite: The History of Citations” (from Cabrillo College Library)

In your Word document, describe any new or interesting facts that you learned from viewing the PowerPoint presentation.

Exercise 2: How to Cite Sources

Useful citation “style guides” are provided on the Library Web site:

  • From the Cabrillo College Library homepage, click on Research Guides by Subject
  • Click on Style Guides
  • Locate the style required by your particular instructor (i.e. APA, MLA)

In your Word document, answer the following 2 questions (using the links for APA Style):

  • In an APA reference list, how do you cite a document on a website? (You can provide general instructions or an example from the guide)
  • In APA style, how do you cite an entire website (rather than a specific document on a site)? (Hint: Use the APA Frequently Asked Questions link)
Exercise 3: Searching for Full-Text Articles in Library Databases

The Library provides access to many online databases. The one you will probably use the most is Academic Search Complete -- it provides the full text for nearly 4,700 publications.

  • From the Cabrillo College Library homepage, click on Articles and Databases
  • Click on Academic Search Complete
  • Click on Advanced Search and then enter keywords or terms related to your topic
  • Click on the little box next to the word Full Text to limit your search to full-text articles only
  • Explore the other possible options to “Limit your results”
  • Click the Search button

  • From your results list, click on any title to access tools to print, email, save and cite the article.
  • Click the “Cite” icon to have the database cite the article! Choose APA for this class. Note: Always check for errors.

In your Word document, copy and paste an APA Style citation that was automatically-generated by the “Cite” tool in Academic Search Premier.

Exercise 4: Searching for Full-Text Articles and Books on the Web

Two popular article databases on the Web are Google Scholar and the Directory of Open Access Journals.

  • Google Scholar: Includes journal articles, theses, books, abstracts, patents and court opinions from academic publishers, professional societies, universities and other websites. Important word of caution: Many of the articles are only available in full text for a fee. You should generally not use or cite articles that you cannot freely access in full text.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: All articles are free and full text, from quality-controlled scientific and scholarly journals. You can browse through Computer Science journals, or you can search all full-text articles.

An increasingly popular book database on the Web is Google Books. Google Books is an ambitious endeavor to scan and make accessible online millions of books taken from research libraries and publishers around the world. Although somewhat controversial, Google Books provides users with full text search capabilities of a large amount of research material. Some of the material is available in full text, while many books are only available as a "preview." If you would like to read the full text of the book, remember, we can request books from other libraries--Inter Library Loan."

Try a quick/basic search in each of these databases. In your Word document, briefly discuss the positive and negative aspects of each Web database.

Exercise 5: Search Engines

Most everyone is familiar with basic searching via Google or Yahoo! However, there are other search engines and advanced searching modes that
you should explore. For example:

  • Other search engines: WolframAlpha (“computational knowledge engine”), Scirus (“for scientific information only”)
  • Explore both WolframAlpha and Scirus. In your Word document, briefly describe the strengths and weaknesses of these 2 search engines, in your opinion.
  • Google Advanced Search: From, click on the “Advanced Search” link to the right of the search box. After entering some keywords in the top boxes, note the feature to limit your results to a particular File Type (i.e. PDF, PowerPoint). Also, note the feature to “Search within a site or domain.” This is where you can easily limit your results to more credible and trusted sites, such as .edu or .gov. You can even search within a particular web site, example: "babbage engine"
  • Babbage Engine from
  • Using Google Advanced Search, find a PDF file from a .gov or .edu site, related to any aspect of computer science. In your Word document, paste the URL for this source.

Exercise 6: Computer Science Websites
  • From the Cabrillo College Library homepage, Find > Research Guides by Subject > Computer Science
  • Explore a few of the websites listed under General Websites, Specific Aspects, and Professional Organizations
  • Find one particular Web page that interests you

On your Word document, briefly describe the Web page you found, and how you might use it in the future.

A. Sargent, 2/2011, rev. emh 9/2012


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