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The Key to Research
The Key to Good Research -- Patience is a Virtue!!!
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
Try using a database like Credo Reference to learn about your topic and help you focus. Credo Reference is a collection of online reference materials that includes dictionaries, encyclopedia, atlases, and subject -specific titles.
Background reading and 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.
Places to Start
Another strategy is to locate a book on your topic and examine the chapter titles in the table of contents and entries in the index at the back of the book to learn more about aspects of the topic that could narrow your research question.
Here is a brief list of materials to help you with your first writing assignment.