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Beginning Your Research   Tags: first, research, tips  

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2012 URL: http://library.allegheny.edu/Begin Print Guide RSS Updates
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Steps to Success

These steps to success are explained on the right.  You may rearrange of adapt them depending on your assignment.

Consult a Reference Librarian

1.  Find Background Information

2.  Use Allecat to find Books

3.  Search Indexes for Journal Articles

4.  Find appropriate Internet Resources

5.  EVALUATE whatever you find

6.  Cite whatever you use

Consult a Reference Librarian

 

Consult a Reference Librarian

Librarians can help you save time and find the best resources. 

Reference Hours and Services

 

1. Find Background Information

A specialized encyclopedia is a good place to get background information and identify key concepts on your topic.   To find what we have, search for Reference books by keyword.  Encyclopedias are organized in various ways, so check the Index for your specific topic.  Many articles will also list additional relevant books.

Use Credo Reference or Reference Universe to find introductory information on your topic.

 

2. Find Books

An Allecat Advanced Keyword Search finds print and electronic books and videos available at Allegheny.

When you identify a useful book, click on any of the Subject terms listed under that book's Details to find additional relevant titles.

 

3. Search Indexes of Journal Articles

An index will help you to find Journal Articles.

Academic OneFile or WilsonWeb OmniFile are two good general indexes which cover a broad range of topics. These two are great for your initial research.  For indexes on special topics, consult this list of indexes by specific subject.   

The results of your search will list relevant article titles.  Some indexes provide the complete article, some do not.  If not, click the Find at Allegheny link to determine if the article is available on another index or in print.

4. Find Appropriate Internet Resources

You may find appropriate information on the Internet.  

Google, Bing, or Infomine direct to websites on your topic.  Since there is no quality control on the Internet, you must evaluate carefully anything that you find.  Please see #5 below.

 

5. Evaluate Your Sources

Books, journal articles, videos and web sites all need to be evaluated to determine if they are suitable for your research.   The Basics of evaluating a source will help you to assess the reliability of what you have found.

When you search the Web, you're going to find lots of stuff: reports, advertisements, blogs, propaganda ... but is it accurate and reliable?   You will have to determine this for yourself and the CRAAP Test can help you to determine if the web site if credible and useful.

 

6. Cite What You Use

As you do your research, note basic information such as who wrote the book or article, what was the title of the book or article, when was it published ...   The Citation Help page gives specific details about what is required by each guide.  Your professor will tell you which format (MLA, APA, Chicago ...) to use for your paper.

Use the RefWorks tool (and its tutorial) to help collect citation information as you go.  Refworks will also organize your citations in the format required by your professor.  It will take some time to learn, but it will pay dividends on every research project.

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