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Things to Remember
The Research Process
As you begin research, keep in mind that the research process should be thought of as more cyclical than linear. As you gather and analyze new information, you'll find that you need to reformulate your question. As you write, you may find that you need more or different information. The library is here to support you throughout the process.
Tips and Tricks
- Develop a vocabulary for your topic. Keep a list of all of the search terms that you try so you know what you've used and what has been the most successful.
- Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to make your search more effective. What does this look like?
- AND requires that both terms be present in each result. If one term is present in the document and the other isn't, it won't show up in your results list. In the search box, you might enter "child* AND school AND behavior"
- OR requires at least one but not necessarily both terms be present in each result. For example, you might enter "meaning OR purpose"
- NOT eliminates results with a particular term present. For example, to get results about African women but not African American women, you would enter "african NOT 'african american'"
- Limit your results by language, but be careful with this if you are open to articles that are written in multiple languages (French and English, for example).
- Use the subjects list to give you ideas for new, relevant search terms that you might use in your next search.
- Limit your results by date of publication if it's appropriate for your needs (if you're building a literature review and your topic is 18th century history, it's probably best not to limit your date range, but if you're writing a paper about current medical practice, this limiter might be useful).
- Some databases, including Academic Search Complete, will allow you to see your search history and even print it. This can be useful to help you keep track of what you have and haven't tried. It can also give you a picture of which searches returned the most useful results.
- Shoot for about 35-1500 results. If you are getting more than this, add more specific search terms. If you are getting fewer than this, you may want to broaden your topic or add AND boolean operators to widen your search.
Digital Scholarship and Preservation Librarian