7 RESEARCH STEPS
STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR TOPIC
SUMMARY: State your topic as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?" Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. Narrow or broaden your topic.
STEP 2: WHAT TYPES OF RESOURCES DO YOU NEED AND KEYWORDS
SUMMARY: Determine the types of resources you need: Primary or Secondary. Newspapers, magazines, articles, books, internet, etc. Develop an arsenal of descriptive keywords to use for searching the index of subject encyclopedias, in databases, or on the Internet. Read articles in encyclopedias and online to set the context for your research.
STEP 3: USE CATALOGS TO FIND BOOKS AND MEDIA
SUMMARY: Use keyword searching in the university’s online catalog to find materials by topic or subject. Type, or write down, the citation (author, title, etc.) and the location information (call number). Note the circulation status. When you pull the book from the shelf, scan the bibliography for additional sources.
STEP 4: USE DATABASES TO FIND PERIODICAL ARTICLES
SUMMARY: Choose the databases best suited to your particular topic; ask a librarian if you need help figuring out which database will be best. Use your descriptive keywords to search for information on your topic.
STEP 5: FIND INTERNET RESOURCES
SUMMARY: Use your list of descriptive keywords to search for information in search engines. Use search engine operators to refine your searches.
STEP 6: EVALUATE WHAT YOU FIND
SUMMARY: evaluate all your resources for quality.
STEP 7: CITE WHAT YOU FIND USING A STANDARD FORMAT
SUMMARY: Give credit where credit is due; cite your sources. Citing, or documenting, the sources used in your research serves two purposes, it gives proper credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows those who are reading your work to duplicate your research and locate the sources that you have listed as references. Knowingly representing the work of others as your own is plagiarism.
What is an annotated bibliography?