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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Research Hints


First and foremost -- feel free to ASK!  It is the best way to get help :)

  1. When you begin a research project start with a "general reference source."  This should be authoritative (the people writing it are experts on that topic) and could be an encyclopedia, database (see the DATABASES page), or qualified website.  Check with the library staff to determine what item will best serve your needs.  A "general reference source" should give you the basics on your topic -- Who, What, Where and When.  The answers to these questions will give you an idea of where to look next.
  2. Ask yourself lots of questions about your topic.  What do you know already?  What do you need to know?  Brainstorm a list of KEYWORDS -- related terms and phrases you can mix and match when looking up your topic online.
  3. BE SPECIFIC when searching "the web."  Hint:  If you get over 10,000 hits your search is too broad!  When doing a random web-search, you should find something authoritative and applicable in under five minutes.  If not, then re-phrase your search string or look elsewhere.
  4. Feel free to see the library staff for information on additional resources or INTERLIBRARY LOANS.
  5. MAKE SURE to follow all copyright guidelines!!!  H-B Woodlawn uses the MLA style of bibliographic citation.  Go to the Citation Machine or Easy Bib to plug in your info for different types of citations.

Don't forget to check out the Public Library resources, with their extensive databases.

**A note on Wikipedia**
Wikipedia can be a great resource tool -- but -- it should not generally be your first stop.  Try to get at least two authoritative sites under your belt before using Wikipedia.  To check the authority of the Wikipedia article, go to the "External Links" section at the bottom of the page and see where the information originated from.  Use your head!  If something on Wikipedia looks funky, or there are editor notes about the article needing to be "cleaned up", etc., make sure to double-check those facts elsewhere.

Last Modified on January 29, 2013