This Scheele Memorial Library subject guide introduces students to some useful resources they will need to succeed in the research process. Specifically, this guide provides important information on : the Research Process, the library's Catalog, Boolean Search methods, the library's online Databases, and citation information.
Research is a process of investigation. An examination of a subject from different points of view. It’s not just a trip to the library to pick up a stack of materials, or choosing the first five hits from a Google search. Research is a hunt for quality information. It is getting to know a subject by reading up on it, reflecting, and playing with ideas.
The key to genuine research is a good research question that addresses a problem calling for analysis. Answering a research question requires that you use information, that is, data as a tool and not as a goal.
Data as a Goal is simply finding everything you can about a topic and explaining what you read.
Data as a tool is finding out the basics about your topic, identifying a problem or issue related to that topic, and then trying to solve the problem or issue.
Typical Steps in the Research Process
The Scheele Library's OPAC or Catalog is the primary tool for identifying and locating resources owned by the library and relevant to your research. Typically, books, items placed on Reserve and , audio video materials are listed in this catalog.
It is easy to use the Online Catalog, and with its many advanced features, it is easy to find the materials you need.
Many students today are successful using computers to search the Internet. But few understand database searching well enough to do it effectively. Worry not, you are about to discover a few things that will help you.
A database is used for finding citations to articles in periodicals (that is: journals, magazines, newspapers).
is an important step. You need to choose a database that covers your topic, type of publication, as well as the dates you need. You can view and search all our databases from this page.
Here is a video that illustrates how to search a database.
Boolean searches allow you to combine words and phrases using the words AND, OR, NOT (known as Boolean operators) to limit, broaden, or define your search. A good researcher should know how to do a Boolean Search.
In addition to the above Boolean illustration, the video below is also helpful.
Research background material. Engage in preliminary research and reading to give you the necessary background knowledge of your subject and to make sure you have narrowed and focused your topic. Read until you know enough about your subject to have informed opinions. How much reading you need to do will depend upon the complexity of the topic and your prior knowledge of the subject matter. You might want to begin with general sources: encyclopedias, dictionaries, text books, and subject reference works.
Using Wikipedia to gain background information on your topic? Read about Wikipedia, its strength and weaknesses. Remember, Wikipedia is not considered to be a reliable source as not everything in Wikipedia is accurate, comprehensive, or unbiased.
This video illustrates how Wikipedia can be incorporated into the research process.
These library resources are also valuable when conducting preliminary research
Britannica Online - Use this resource to search or browse for information in encyclopedias, magazines, videos, and Web sites.
Opposing Viewpoints - Locate information that’s needed to fully understand an issue: pro and con viewpoint articles, reference articles that provide context, full-text magazines, academic journals, and newspapers, primary source documents, government and organizational statistics, multimedia, including images and podcasts, links to hand-selected web sites.