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