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Library Talk - Research Tips
For more guides about specific research skills such as
- using Boolean operators AND and OR in search statements
- looking up peer reviewed articles
- asking for copies of articles from other libraries
- making hanging indents using Word
browse through the weekly issues of Library Talk
Why Think about How to Do Research?
We all know how easy it is to search for information in a browser like Google: type a question and leave it to the computer to sort out the search words. This is very practical for simple searches like finding a picture, or some basic facts about a person or event. We also know that browser searches often bring up results that
- have little to do with the topic you want
- contain questionable or bad information
- take you to websites that charge for information that you can get for free through the Library.
This guide describes a wide variety of common information sources and ways to use them that will help you find the information you will need for all of your college classes.
A Quick Guide to Doing Research in the Library
- To search or to seek ("rechercher" in French)
- To look again ("re-search")
Build Your Own Web Of Information Links
- Start with a name, a date, or a concept
- Find background information (related names, dates, etc.)
- Use this data to look in other references
- Work outward to related subjects
Five Basic Tips
1. Look for information in different formats (Hint: It isn't all on the Internet)
- Books (Look in the Library Catalog)
- Magazines & Journals (See the LibGuide for Articles - Databases A-Z)
- Videos & Music (DVDs & CDs are listed in the Library Catalog, Click here for streaming sources.)
- People & Organizations (Associations, Government offices, etc.)
2. Note where you looked & what you looked for
- Which books or indexes did you look in?
- Did you use both technical search words and ordinary terms?
- How many different ways can you spell Tchaikovsky?
3. Note new clues as you find them
- Synonyms for your subject
- Other people who have written about it
- Related people, places, times, & things
4. Be flexible in setting your topic (until it is set)
- You may find a lot, and have to narrow it
- You may find little, and have to broaden your search
- You may find another, more interesting, topic
- BUT - Once your topic is set, don't get distracted
5. Ask for help anytime
- The Library is a complicated place. You can ask the Reference Librarians and the staff at the Check-Out Desk any information question, from "Where is the pencil sharpener?" to "How do I search for articles in this electronic index?"
Using Information From The World Wide Web
EVALUATE any site that you go to
- Anybody can put anything they want on the web. The information you find may be good, bad, or indifferent.
A Few Basic Questions To Ask
- Who made the web page?
- Is the information reliable?
- Is it up to date?
- Is it biased?
Watch Your Time
Give yourself lead time
- To send for interlibrary loans
- To contact people & organizations
- Course assignments
- Library due dates (especially Interlibrary Loans)
Information Literacy Links
Fake News & Fact-Checking