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CISS 399: BES Capstone (Hess 2024): Home

CrossSearch - Find Everything

Visit the Libraries' homepage to try our discovery tool, CrossSearch

CrossSearch provides a single starting point for your research by collecting most of our research resources -- the catalog, research databases, open-access journals and more -- behind a single search box. Once you have begun to search CrossSearch, you can fine tune your results to focus on specific types of resources, publication dates, subject areas, and more.


Find E-Books


To search for e-books located at Holy Cross, you can use CrossSearch.

Then, use the Resource Type limiter in the side navigation to focus your search on e-books. 


In most cases, your best option is to use the "Read Online" feature for our e-books. Most academic e-books do not work with devices that you might use to read personal e-books, such as a Kindle or Nook (believe me -- this frustrates librarians too!). There is software that you can download onto a PC or iPad, but this can be difficult to use, so if you have a stable internet connection, I recommend reading online. 

However, if you would like to download the software, or if you are having trouble accessing any particular e-book, please feel free to contact us ( or see our e-books guide linked below: 

NOTE that most e-books do have limits on printing. Each publisher has different functionality and rules for downloading and printing ebooks. 


In addition to our collections, here are some other places that you can look for e-books for your project: 

     Other Libraries

With a BPL eCard, available to all Massachusetts residents and resident students (even if you're currently learning from out-of-state), you can access e-books via the Boston Public Library. 
*Note that you cannot submit a new BPL eCard registration from outside the U.S. 

You should also check with your local community and/or state library, as many of these libraries have online collections. Contact if you need help locating information about what may be available to you locally.

 Open-Access E-Books: 

This list includes e-book sources which are openly and freely available:


Even if you don't find any e-books on your topic in CrossSearch, you might still find some useful books by searching the individual e-book libraries. 

By searching a specific e-book collection, you can search search the full text of each book, allowing for more detailed searching which might pick up, for example, a book with one or two chapters focused on your specific topic. 

Understanding & Choosing Appropriate Sources

The Information Lifecycle:

The Information Lifecycle helps us understand how information about an event, topic or idea might emerge and evolve over time. 

Note that this timeline is just a general sense of the information lifecycle -- the exact timing can vary greatly from one discipline to another! 

Interrogating Your Sources: 


 Who is the author?

 How is the author qualified?

 Is the author an expert?

 What is the author's bias? (Remember that a bias may not be directly stated -- but there is almost always some bias!))

Be wary if you cannot determine an author or group responsible for the content you are reading.


 What is the source? Is it a research report? An entertainment piece? An opinion essay? 

 What does this tell you about the source's audience, purpose, and potential bias(es) or shortcoming(s)? 


 Is the source recent (or, if digital, regularly updated)?  When was it published? 

 Is there any information which seems out-of-date? 


 Who hosts the site? OR Who publishes this resource?

 Does the host/publisher have bias?  (Remember that a bias may not be directly stated.)

 What is the domain extension?

The publisher and/or domain can help you determine how reputable a website is. For example, .gov is the domain for United States government sites and .edu is for US Educational institutuions. Note that not all .com sites are unreliable and not all .org sites are reputable -- .org simply means that the website is for a non-profit group. 


 What is the purpose and audience of the source?

 What is the benefit, and/or who benefits, if this source reaches and/or successfully convinces readers? 



 By what means was this source created? 

 Does the resource provide its sources?

 Does it refer/link you to other credible sources?

 Can you determine whether the information came from, and whether the original source/info is represented accurately?

Be wary of any source which does not reference sources, especially when it contains information that clearly or at least likely originated somewhere else. First, failing to cite sources is unethical, and reflects poorly on the author(s)! Second, without knowing the original source, you can't adequately evaluate the weaknesses and/or biases of the information, or know if it is even being represented faithfully in the "secondary" source. 

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources:

Scholarly sources are written by experts on a particular subject (for example, a professor or other researcher). They also go through an extra process of review and approval by a group of other experts before they can be published. Usually, scholarly articles are written in 'academic-ese' and designed to be read by other scholars. However, because scholarly sources take a long time to be approved and published, they are not always good sources for current events.  

How can you tell if you have a scholarly article in your hand? 
The chart below compares the characteristics of scholarly vs. popular (non-scholarly) sources: 

It's important to keep in mind that scholarly sources are not always the best or only source available to you -- it depends on what information you are trying to find:

  • Due to the time required for a scholarly article to be researched, written, go through the peer review process and then be published, it can be difficult to find scholarly articles published about recent events, discoveries, etc.. You should expect 1-2 years between the time an event occurs and the time academic research on that event begins to be published, with some exceptions. 
  • In some disciplines, other means of conveying timely and research-based information have developed -- for example, working papers in the discipline of economics. Working papers have not undergone the same kind of rigor and review as their scholarly counterparts, and they often represent early versions of research that will later be published in a peer-reviewed forum. However, in many cases they are still perfectly reliable and robust sources of information and analysis. 
  • For matters related to policy, official government documents or publications such as CRS Reports are also good sources of information that may not be available in peer-reviewed formats. 
  • News articles, correspondence and other 'primary sources' can also provide useful insights, again depending on your topic.  

Primary vs. Secondary Sources:

primary source is a first-hand witness to a historical event or period (that is, it was originally created at that point in history).  Primary sources offer a first-hand perspective which is untouched by hindsight, subsequent events, or modern knowledge. They provide insights about the actions, motivations and emotions involved in a historical period, and allow us to understand history as it was experienced at the time rather than as we analyze it today.   

Unlike with secondary sources, the value of primary sources lies in their proximity to the event rather than a particular publication venue and/or authority (though this can also play a role in your interpretation of the source). For this reason, primary sources may include a combination of scholarly, popular, unpublished, and other kinds of sources. 

Secondary sources are second-hand witnesses -- they provide descriptions and/or analysis of historical events and documents after the fact. Secondary sources usually draw their information from primary sources, but add a layer of interpretation, and often rely upon the kind of understanding of historical periods and/or events that only becomes clear sometime later.