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Healthcare & Health Information Management at Clermont

Research help for the UC Clermont programs in Health Information Systems, Health Information Management, Medical Coding, and Cancer Registry.

Develop Your Research Question

Before you start searching, you need a topic! Here's a checklist to consider as you develop your research question. A good research question does the following:

  • Avoids taking a position before starting the research
  • Requires more than a simple yes/no answer
  • Has an underlying problem of significance (i.e., do other people care about it?)
  • Takes on a neutral tone and avoids loaded language
  • Can be answered with authoritiative evidence (i.e., other people have already researched the topic)
  • Seeks knowledge that is not too narrow or too broad.

Find Sources

When searching for resources in research, there a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Brainstorm Ideas

What are you trying to learn? How might the authors refer to it?

You may initially think "dog" but others may refer to the idea as "puppy," "canine", or "K-9." What are other ways others refer to your topic? Thinking about this in advance prepares you. This should be done before you even start searching.

2. Find the Right Tool

What types of materials do you need? What subjects does your topic cover?

Identify where you should be searching. Different databases can be subject-specific or generalist (like Academic Search Complete). Some cover certain time periods or have just articles, books, or index. Consider the context that you need. Summon or Academic Search Complete may be a good place to start if you're not sure where you should be looking.

3. Search Using Concepts

Did you search with a question or with keywords?

Let's say your research question had been "Why are dogs allergic to chocolate?" Instead of placing that in your search try identifying the keywords to search with "Dogs and Chocolate."

4. Use Effective Searching

Did you use Boolean searching? Have you used quotation marks and parentheses to group ideas together?

Use your AND, OR, and NOT statements to craft the most effective search. You can see some of these strategies demonstrated in the video Search Strategies for Library Databases.

5. Use Filters

Are there items not in a language you can read? Do you need only the most current information?

Using filters can help you focus more on the information you need outside the search keywords. Options for filtering may vary on databases, so you may need to place that in consideration for finding the right tools

6. See More Results

Did you look beyond the first page?

We all want the easy answer, but sometimes that gem we need may not be the first result. Be sure to evaluate all your results before giving up. If there are too many, is there a more effective search strategy to narrow it down?

Evaluate Sources

Never take information at face value or assume a source is a "good" one just because it came from the library.  Instead, think about what the source adds to your understanding of your topic, how it might be used in your paper, and what kind of expertise the author brings to the discussion. 

Some things to consider:

  1. Is the information relevant to my work?
  2. What is the main argument of the work? What evidence supports that argument?
  3. Is the information still up to date?
  4. Does the author have the appropriate expertise?
  5. Who is the intended audience of the work?
  6. How much does the source help you learn?
  7. What do other sources tell you about the author, publisher, and topic?
  8. How can you use this source in your research?

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