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Pittsburgh Regional Science Fair Research Resources

Click a topic below to learn how POWER Library can supercharge your research.

What is POWER Library?

POWER Library is Pennsylvania’s collection of free online databases that give all Pennsylvanians access to peer-reviewed articles and research, magazines, newspapers, eBooks, and more.  When you use POWER Library, you are accessing thousands of authoritative accurate, subscription-only resources that aren’t available through free search engines.

How can I use POWER Library?

You can use POWER Library at your local public library, your school library, or at home.  You’ll need a free library card from your local library, or you can register for an eCard for immediate access.

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Which database should I use?

How do I cite my sources?

Gale databases and Science Reference center provide helpful citation generators that allow you to cite your sources in a variety of formats.  View these guides for step-by-step instructions:

For more information on citing your sources, check out this guide from Penn State University Libraries.

How can I tell if a source is credible?

A credible source is unbiased and its claims are backed up by research.  To help determine if a source is credible, use this checklist from the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

  • Who is the author? Credible sources are written by authors respected in their fields of study. Responsible, credible authors will cite their sources so that you can check the accuracy of and support for what they’ve written. (This is also a good way to find more sources for your own research.)
  • How recent is the source? The choice to seek recent sources depends on your topic. While sources on the American Civil War may be decades old and still contain accurate information, sources on information technologies, or other areas that are experiencing rapid changes, need to be much more current.
  • What is the author’s purpose? When deciding which sources to use, you should take the purpose or point of view of the author into consideration. Is the author presenting a neutral, objective view of a topic? Or is the author advocating one specific view of a topic? Who is funding the research or writing of this source? A source written from a particular point of view may be credible; however, you need to be careful that your sources don’t limit your coverage of a topic to one side of a debate.
  • What type of sources does your audience value? If you are writing for a professional or academic audience, they may value peer-reviewed journals as the most credible sources of information. If you are writing for a group of residents in your hometown, they might be more comfortable with mainstream sources, such as Time or Newsweek. A younger audience may be more accepting of information found on the Internet than an older audience might be.
  • Be especially careful when evaluating Internet sources! Never use Web sites where an author cannot be determined, unless the site is associated with a reputable institution such as a respected university, a credible media outlet, government program or department, or well-known non-governmental organizations. Beware of using sites like Wikipedia, which are collaboratively developed by users. Because anyone can add or change content, the validity of information on such sites may not meet the standards for academic research.

What if I need more help?

Librarians at your local library can help you with POWER library and more.  POWER Library offers a 24/7 live chat service that will connect you with a librarian who can help you with your research.

This project is made possible in part by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Library Access funds administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries.  The views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.