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Basic Research Steps
- Select an interesting and doable topic.
- Identify each component of your topic.
- Select appropriate terms to describe the components and use truncation as appropriate.
- Determine the correct use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT). Click here for an explanation.
- Select fields to search if appropriate (author, title, subject).
- Limit your results as necessary (date, scholarly vs. popular, etc.).
- Evaluate your results and rethink your strategy as necessary.
Background Information & Overviews
When you begin a research project, it is helpful to do some background reading to get some basic information on your topic, e.g., keywords, important names, dates, etc. CredoReference is a fulltext online reference service comprised of over 3 million entries from hundreds of well-regarded reference titles. Content includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, and subject-specific titles.
Subject-specific reference materials can provide beginning researchers with the following:
- an overview of a topic and how it fits into the broader picture,
- the various aspects of a topic to help broaden or narrow the area of research,
- the vocabulary (a.k.a. keywords) associated with the topic to use at the computer,
- the names of important people or organizations associated with the topic,
- a bibliography to lead to other relevant items on the topic, including major studies, books, articles and researchers.
Hint: Look for the word count at the bottom of each entry to find longer articles.