It's always best to do a little planning before jumping into your research. This might include how you plan to search, what types of resources you need, and where you can find those resources (Databases). Check out the information below and turn it into action on the next tab!
Searching works best when you have a research question in mind. You should be able to identify key concepts related to your research. These concepts form the basis for your search terms.
Know your topic. Exploring general sources (a chapter in your textbook, an encyclopedia article or other background reading) is a good way to start. The better you understand a topic, the easier it is to evaluate sources.
What is your purpose? Since you are developing an action research project you need to select scholarly research about your topic. You need to study the topic in depth, find out what others have learned about the topic, so you can develop an effective project.
Start early. Until you have done some searching and reading, you might not recognize if your topic is too broad or narrow.
Search terms: Look at the descriptors or subject terms to identify appropriate and alternate search terms. Be aware that different databases may use different search terms. You may need to adjust your search terms as you move from one database to another.
Select resources appropriate for your topic. Your professor will require that you use only scholarly, peer-reviewed resources.
Search journal: If you are working on a major research project, keep a search journal by recording the databases you used, the search terms you tried, and the success of the search. This can keep you from repeating an unsuccessful search.
Don't wait until the last minute. Good resources may not be available locally. Allow yourself time for an interlibrary loan.
There are two main types of publications that produce articles. While most academic research requires that you use Scholarly Articles, sometimes Popular Articles are acceptable. Always check your assignment to be sure!
|Popular Articles||Scholarly Articles|
|Usually found in magazines, newspapers, or trade publications||Usually found in journals|
|Tend to be short||Often quite long|
|Often include pictures and/or advertisements||May contain charts, graphs, or diagrams|
|Sources not always shown||Research-based|
|Written for a general audience||Written for scholars, researchers, or students in that field|
Check out our Keywords tutorial for more information!
Keywords are simple words or phrases that sum up your topic, and can usually be pulled from your research question.
Simply eliminate those words and concepts that have no meaning, when on their own (How, does, the, etc.), and you're usually left with 2-3 good keywords to use in your research.
To find information on a topic, you would use one or more of your keywords to search for sources (books, media, articles, etc.) in the library's online catalog or databases.