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Research Process

SELECTING SOURCES

HERE IS AN INTERACTIVE TUTORIAL ABOUT THE TYPES OF INFORMATION:

Find tabs above for Credo & Other Encyclopedias, a General Library Search, & for Journal Article Databases.  Selecting the best information resources from these databases to answer your research question depends on the depth of the information you need and the time frame you wish to explore. Ask yourself what kind of information you need:

  • General or specific information?
  • Narrative analysis or statistical data?
  • Current or historical information?

Use the table below to help select the type of source that will best serve your purpose.  Remember that you will probably want to use more than one type to locate the wide variety of information that fully covers your research topic.

TYPE OF INFORMATION

PURPOSE

TYPE OF SOURCE

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Broad overview of a topic, defines terms, provides context

Books, reports, encyclopedias, dictionaries, government documents

CURRENT INFORMATION

Recent events, news reports, statistical data

Newspapers, magazines, government documents, web sites

SCHOLARLY INFORMATION

Research studies, in-depth analysis

Scholarly journal articles, books

Online Databases

You'll find journal articles from a wide variety of publications by searching online databases.  Some databases are more general, and other databases are subject or publisher specific.  How do you decide which database indexes journals that are related to your topic?

General Interest Databases are helpful for researching a general topic.  The publications indexed here cover the broadest range of topics and may include magazines and journals related to current affairs, literature, religion, social sciences, technology, medicine and many others.  An example is the Academic Search Premier Database.  Other more specialized & academic general interest databases include JSTOR and SCOPUS.  Other general interest databases focus on a type of resource such as the Annual Reviews Database (for Reviews of the Literature) or the Dissertations & Theses Database.

Subject-specific Databases are most helpful for in-depth research on a topic.  These databases usually contain only scholarly/academic journals or professional/trade publications and focus on a narrower subject area.  Examples include the Aerospace Database, Business Source Complete (business and economics), CINAHL (nursing and allied health), and PsycINFO (psychology).

Publisher Databases focus on the journals from a specific publisher.  Most publications indexed in these databases are scholarly/academic journals or professional/trade publications.  Examples include Elsevier ScienceDirect, Oxford University Press Journals, Sage Journals Online, SpringerLink, Taylor & Francis Online Journals, and Wiley Online Library.

Research Guides often suggest other encyclopedias for your subject field.

FIND MATERIALS THROUGH THE MAIN SEARCH BOX.  YOU MIGHT SELECT THE BOOKS OR THE ARTICLES TABS.

 

A - Z Databases provides a list of the library's databases for finding articles and more. 

Research Guides can direct you to the best databases for your subject field.

Researching a Topic Worksheet--Finish Worksheet

Researching a Topic Worksheet

Step 1. Write down your broad topic idea. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 2. List some of the aspects of your topic you might want to investigate. Below are two different approaches that you might try.

Approach #1: List one or more subtopics you wish to explore.

Subtopic: ____________________________________________________

Subtopic: ____________________________________________________

Subtopic: ____________________________________________________

Approach #2: List possible questions about your topic you might wish your research to focus on: Who? What? Where? Why? When? How? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 3. Draft a possible thesis or problem statement. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 4. Considering your thesis or problem statement, list as many terms as you can think of which might be useful in a subject or keyword search for materials. Consider synonyms and word variations. ____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 5. Search for the citation of a book that relates to your topic.

Subject you searched: _____________________________________________

Author: ____________________________________________________

Title: ____________________________________________________

Publisher:   __________________________________________________

Date of publication: _______________

Call number: ____________________________________________________

What other subject headings are suggested? ________________________________________________________________

Step 6. Search a journal article database for a citation for an article on your topic.

Index/Database you searched: ________________________________________________________________

Subject you searched: ____________________________________________

Article title: ____________________________________________________

Author(s) if given:_______________________________________________

Title of periodical: ________________________________________________

Volume number ______ Issue number (if any) ______

Page number(s) _________ Date:___________________________

Other useful subject headings or descriptors that were listed: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Adapted from Central Michigan University Off-Campus Library Services Literature Review libguide.  (n.d.)  Researching a topic worksheet.Retrieved from http://ocls.cmich.edu/help/topicsheet.htm

Comparing Sources