Answered By: Jeffrey Orrico
Last Updated: Feb 01, 2017     Views: 42

Some important choices in your approach to library research will depend upon the academic field in which you are conducting your research (e.g., nursing, history, education, literature, etc.).  We have subject specialist librarians as well as general reference librarians who can help you identify the best methods for your field.  Call, text, or e-mail the reference desk or one of the specialist librarians to make an appointment for a research consultation to get help with that.


Meanwhile, you can get started on your topic by using an “hourglass” model:


·         start with broad background research; topics in your textbook, from high-quality websites and online encyclopedias (like Credo online library encyclopedias or Wikipedia), or articles of interest can inspire a direction for your research.


·         identify specific areas on which you will focus;


·         locate scholarly overview reference articles on those topics;


·         craft a research question or thesis statement for in-depth study;


·         conduct a literature review to determine what research has already been done on the subject and whether there is a consensus or division of scholars on your question (you need to look for both supporting and contradicting sources);


·         if existing research seems to universally agree on a topic (i.e., “Is the earth flat?” “No.”), then you may need to revise your topic so that your work will offer new insights and analysis rather than rehash what is already known.


Once you’ve narrowed down your topic, you can do an in-depth search for books, journal articles, and other scholarly resources.


·         Keep track of important terms, individuals, events, places, and primary sources related to your topic; remember to try alternate terms and spellings.


·         Use the “keyword” search in the library catalog to look for appropriate books (both print and e-books).


·         Try the same keyword searches in the subject-appropriate journal databases.


·         Refine your searches using the subject headings shown for books or journal articles which seem most helpful.


·         Mine the relevant books and articles that you find for additional search terms and bibliographies of books and articles.


·         Continue this expanding “research spiral” of  search terms and bibliographies until you have a thorough grasp of the issues, theories, and research which other scholars have described in connection with your topic.


·         If you find books or articles which are not in our collection, you may request them from other libraries using ILLiad, our interlibrary loan system (requests typically take about 7-14 days to fulfill).


·         Depending on your topic, you may wish to travel to specialized library collections for further research.


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