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Searching for Information on Your Topic
Define and refine your topic
- Narrow or broaden your search.
- Determine best search terms for your topic
- Use search strategies to improve your searches
- Boolean Operators
- Phrase Searching
Formulate your research questions
- Factual Questions - You may need to investigate some factual questions before you begin your research. Some examples: What does pH mean? What is the difference between abiotic and biotic factors?
- Research Questions - What do you want to know about your topic? Is your question researchable and answerable?
Identify Library Resources
- What databases, catalogs, or other information sources should you use?
- What types of information do you need?
- Primary Sources
Created during the the original research or during the time under study. First-hand, contemporary, direct evidence or data
Examples: peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings, works of literature/art, interviews/transcripts, musical scores, autobiographies/diaries, eyewitness accounts, emails/texts/tweets/posts/podcasts, photographs
- Secondary Sources
- Viewpoint outside the original source, put primary sources in context
- Examples: articles in magazines/newspapers, literary accounts, book/movie reviews, biographies, second-hand accounts, interpretations, commentaries, scholarly articles evaluating original research.
- Tertiary Sources
Sources that assemble information from a variety of primary and secondary sources. General and removed from source.
Examples: textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, manuals, directories, guidebooks, databases.
Find Information on your topic
- What kind of sources do you need? (ex: peer-review journal articles, background information, data)
- Use the appropriate library resources. (ex: article databases, library online catalog, digital collections)
Cite your sources
- Capture bibliographic information/citation.
- Most databases and online catalogs have options to capture this information.
- Use a citation style appropriate for your paper. (APA, MLA, other)