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FYS 100 The American Public School System -- Spring 2017: Getting Started

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).
  • 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.

Just Around the Corner

Here is a brief list of materials in the reference collection. They are only a few steps away and can be very useful as you begin your projects.

  • Almanac of American Education 2007 (Ref 370.973 A445)
  • Condition of Education 2015 (Ref 370.973 U58Nc 2015)
  • Encyclopedia of American Education Ref 370.973 U57e2 2001
  • Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration (Ref 371.2 E56e 2006)