Library Research Advice
- Start early! Allow enough time to conduct proper, in-depth research.
- Select a topic that is of interest to you.
- Create a list of keywords for your topic and add to the list as you do research. In addition to the obvious keywords, look for associated words and terminology.
- Get a basic overview of your topic by checking reference sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries for definitions, statistics or maps. While these sources may provide a general basis for your topic, they are not considered sources for scholarly research. Look to books, academic journals and peer-reviewed sources for more in-depth research.
- Review available books, videos and audiotapes for background information and discussions about your topic. Internet search engines can provide additional information.
- Use full-text articles and abstracts from journals, magazines and newspapers to bring your research up to date. These sources may be found in hardcopy and on-line. Amberton students and faculty have access to a multitude of on-line sources. Never, ever, photocopy, download or print anything without writing down where the information came from.
- Always cite your sources.
When searching the Internet through a search engine, be sure to check out the tips/helps for that specific search engine to learn the best way to compose your search. Each search engine is different in the way quotation marks, parenthesis, + and -, etc. are used.
Journal article indexes and full-text databases work a bit differently from Web search engines. Boolean searching works best for these types of services. Boolean searching is a way of breaking your topic into keywords and then joining those keywords with certain operators such as "and" & "or." Here are examples of how to use Boolean operators:
- AND between words will narrow a search to include only items with both terms included example: violence and children
- OR will broaden a search to include items with either one, or the other, or both terms example: teenagers or adolescents
- NOT will narrow a search by excluding a term (use with caution!) example: Mexico not New
Truncation is another method for broadening your search. Truncation is the practice of searching for the variations of word endings. Attaching a designated character to a word stem in order to find all words beginning with that stem. Characters used to represent truncation vary though an asterisk is often used. An example of truncation is "computer*" which would include hits with such words as "computer", "computers", "computerize", "computer-assisted".
Evaluating Internet Sources
Libraries, in Texas and around the world, provide access to a variety of resources including the Internet. By increasing your information literacy skills, you can more effectively search, select, and evaluate these resources.