Know the difference between a search engine and a directory

A search engine lets you seek out specific words and phrases in Web pages. A directory is more like a subject catalog in the library-- a human being has determined the main point of a Web page and has categorized it based on a classification scheme of topics and subtopics used by that directory. Many of the search engines have also developed browsable subject catalogues, and most of the directories also have a search engine, so the distinction between them is blurring. Jack Solock, Special...

A lot of information is posted by educators as part of their teaching or sharing information with colleagues

An educator or student with an interest in sharing information may write an article and post it as part of his or her personal web site. Generally, these are unpublished articles--if an article is going to be or has been published in a scholarly journal, the journal may own the copyright and the author can't post it without permission. College professors also post information that they're using for a class. Sometimes if they've authored a textbook, you can find chapters or portions of chapters...

Almanacs yearbooks and handbooks

Almanacs, yearbooks and handbooks are often single volumes which summarize large amounts of facts about things like people and organizations, current and historical events, countries, statistics, and popular culture items like sports, entertainment, zip codes. They can frequently provide quick answers to factual questions, but aren't useful for extensive research. Yearbooks are issued by encyclopedia companies and provide a quick update to events occurring during that year. Handbooks usually...

Analyze and organize your information

The word analyze means to break something down into its parts. A meaningful analysis identifies the parts and demonstrates how they relate to each other. You may have information from different sources which examines different aspects of your topic. By breaking down the information, you may be able to see relationships between the different sources and form them into a whole concept. When you're trying to make sense of the information coming out of your research process, you often have to look...

Bookmarks or favorites

Before you start a research session, make a new folder in your bookmarks or favorites area and set that folder as the one to receive new bookmark additions. You might name it with the current date, so you later can identify in which research session the bookmarks were made. Remember you can make a bookmark for a page you haven't yet visited by holding the mouse over the link and getting the popup menu (by either pressing the mouse button or right clicking, depending on what flavor computer you...

Boolean logic

Boolean logic allows the use of AND, OR and NOT to search for items containing both terms, either term, or a term only if not accompanied by another term. The links below and all the Web search engines search help have a lot of good examples of Boolean logic. Tip NOT can be dangerous. Let's say you want to search for items about Mexico, but not New Mexico, so you use NOT to exclude the word New from your retrieved set. This would prevent you from retrieving an article about New regulations in...

Choosing a focus or combining themes to form a focus

Try your choices of focus on for size as you did your topic. Which ones fit the assignment, the size, scope and type of the paper Think about which of your possible focuses has the best chance for making a successful A+ paper. If you find several themes within your topic which each are too small to support the entire paper, can they be combined to form a focus If you haven't yet read the online linked articles on Ideas browse through them to get suggestions for focusing and narrowing your...

Consider the process youll use

The paper is your final product, but a research paper involves an extensive process before you can generate the product. If you focus too quickly on the end product, you may miss some of the important research steps and find yourself writing a paper without enough understanding of the topic to do an A+ job. Browse over the rest of the steps suggested in this manual to get an idea of the process and think about how you'll approach each step. Start a journal or notebook and begin jotting notes...

Construct a thesis statement and try it on for size

Before beginning to write the paper, write the thesis statement. Boil down the main point of your paper to a single statement. Hamilton College (Williams) gives this explanation of the thesis statement A well-written thesis statement, usually expressed in one sentence, is the most important sentence in your entire paper. It should both summarize for your reader the position you will be arguing and set up the pattern of organization you will use in your discussion. A thesis sentence is not a...

Consult the reference librarian for advice

Several times above, you've been advised to consult the reference librarian. Reference librarians can help save you a lot of time because they know their library's collection very well--both the reference collection and the nonfiction collection and can often tell you off the top of their heads whether or not the library has a particular item you're looking for. They are also skilled searchers, both of the library's catalog and of online resources such as CD-ROM, online databases and the...

Dewey Decimal Classification System cont

600 General technology 610 Medical sciences and medicine 620 Engineering & allied operations 630 Agriculture 640 Home economics & family living 650 Management & auxiliary services 660 Chemical engineering 670 Manufacturing 680 Manufacture for specific uses 690 Buildings 750 Painting & paintings (museums) 760 Graphic arts, printmaking & prints, 770 Photography & photographs 780 Music 790 Recreational & performing arts 810 American literature 820 English & Old English...

Goal Exploring your topic finding and forming a focus for your research

Feelings You're probably still feeling uncertain, even though you have a topic. As you root around in your topic, you may have your darkest hour in the whole process, feeling threatened by the choice of a focus--what if you pick the wrong one Try to tolerate these feelings. Once you choose a focus, you should start to feel some optimism and confidence. You may even have an Aha experience, but don't worry if you don't--there's not an Aha in every A+ paper. Thoughts and Actions Follow the steps...

Goal Gathering information which clarifies and supports your focus

Feelings Many people feel interested and challenged at this stage. The agonizing part of choosing what to research is over and the task of finding the specific information you need is more like solving a puzzle or going on a treasure hunt. If any part of this process is going to be fun, this is the part. Thoughts and Actions Follow the steps below to get an idea of things you should be thinking about and doing, and some of the strategies which will help. Note the type of information search you...

Goal Preparing for the assignment and getting ready to choose a topic

Feelings Don't be surprised if you feel like many people do as they get started worried about the amount of work ahead of you and a bit unsure of yourself. You might even feel a little excitement, anticipating the project Or maybe not. Hey wait a minute Why should I care about how I'm feeling during this whole process There's an old saying, Misery loves company. If you know how other students feel as they go through the research and writing process and you feel about the same way, you. 'll know...

In the library

To get a broad overview of a subject in the library, you'll read and browse general sources of information discovered using three strategies reference room browsing, catalog browsing and shelf-browsing. Let's say you're making your first trip to the library to get ideas for your research paper topic. You've probably thumbed through your course syllabus and coursepack, so you have some references to particular authors, issues or topics which will be covered. Start in the reference room, with...

Index and abstract of a document

When a document like a journal article has been indexed and an abstract written, a human indexer has helped organize the document for easy retrieval. He or she chosen some words, phrases and concepts which represent the subject matter of the document and has attached those to the database record as descriptors. The specific terms usually come from a book of terms used by that database producer, to promote consistency between indexers. The indexer, or possibly the author of the article, has...

Info Search browse read relax

Start by thumbing through the textbooks or course pack for the class in which your paper was assigned. Browse the table of contents, chapter headings and subheadings, to get an overview of the subject matter. Visit your library and browse in the catalog and reference room to find out what sources are held by the library which may relate to your class. Browse some of the subject-indexed sources on the internet with the same purpose. The Info Search section of this manual (p. 20) will help you...

Info Search preliminary note taking

As you read, start taking notes of what you're learning about your topic-concepts, issues, problems, areas where experts agree or disagree. Keep track of the bibliographic references for the information you're using, and write down a note or two of what's contained in the book, article, Website, etc. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing you read something earlier about a particular point and not being able to locate it again when you decide it's something you need. Find out what kind...

Info Search read for overview of various topics

Use the notes you've made and the thinking you've done so far to select some areas for general reading. Use the library's reference room--encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs--to get an overview of possible topics (even if your instructor has told you that you can't use an encyclopedia as a reference--that's not important at this stage). Explore CD-ROM tools in your library, like newspaper and magazine indexes, searching with key words representing your topic ideas. Explore the internet by...

Info Survey what print and electronic resources are available

When you've narrowed your choices down, make a quick survey of the research resources which will be available to you on each potential topic. How much information seems to be available in your library's catalog If it's a current topic, is there information in newspaper and magazine indexes and are those newspapers and magazines held by your library Is there much authoritative information on your topic on the internet Is the available information slanted to one side of an issue versus another...

Information foundand not foundon the

The dream behind the creation of the Internet is the possibility of universal access in a digital age--where any author's work could be available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. The experience of most people, however, is not that the Net contains great works and crucial research information. Instead most of what is there is perceived to be of low value. The root of the problem is that authors and publishers cannot make a living giving away their work. Mark Stefik in Trusted Systems, Scientific...

Jot down your questions and ideas about possible topics

Use your notebook to starting recording questions which interest you or ideas for possible topics. If you're researching a paper for a 20th century American history class, write down questions you wonder about Why did the stock market crash in 1929 Who was the worst 20th century American President Did the Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files really kill JFK You'll end up with a list of ideas and musings, some of which are obviously ridiculous and not reasonable topics for your paper, but don't...

Learn how online library catalogs work

A library catalog is a listing of all the items held by a particular library. A cataloguer examines the item (book, video, map, audio tape, CD, etc.) and decides how it will be described in the library's catalog and under what subject it will be classified. When the item is entered into the library's online catalog database, information is entered into different fields, which are then searchable by users. Library catalogs usually treat a book as a single item and catalog it that way, even if it...

Learn some essential browser skills

Know how to use your browser for finding your way around, finding your way back to places you've been before and for note-taking as you gather information for your paper. A large part of effective research on the Web is figuring out how to stay on track and not waste time--the browsing and surfing metaphors are fine for leisure time spent on the Web, but not when you're under time pressure to finish your research paper. Lots of colleges have Netscape tutorials - see Web and internet tutorials...

Learn to browse understand the classification scheme in your library

A library's classification scheme is a system by which books are organized to be placed on the shelves. Browsing the shelves is an important step when you're trying to get ideas for your research project, so it's worth the effort to become familiar with your library's system. Most libraries in the U.S. use either the Dewey Decimal system or Library of Congress system, while Britain uses the UDC and other countries use various systems. All of the systems attempt to co-locate books with similar...

More and more magazines and newspapers are providing excerpts from their current and past issues online

And some magazines provide additional content related to the current issue which isn't in the print version. (Clever--when you buy the print version and find out there's more at the Web site, you have to go there, and then you get zapped with the advertising banners ) Ok, there's a pattern here. The commercial sites will post information that they think will enhance their online or real world business, build their public relations goodwill, or will draw people to the Web site where they can...

Notebook

As you read, ideas and questions may strike you - write them down, or you'll lose track of them. Look for issues which interest you, which arouse your curiosity or your passion (no, not that kind of passion, unless it's a human sexuality course). Consider the audience for your research paper what kinds of things have been discussed in class that seemed to interest the class and the instructor What kinds of issues were touched upon but could use further study and elaboration Here is advice from...

Reference Sources in Libraries

Here are some resources typically used by reference librarians and often found in library reference rooms. If you don't find something in your library--ask. Sometimes these are kept behind the reference desk if the reference librarians tend to consult them frequently. Note that many of these resources are available as both books and CD-ROMs. Which version your library has will depend on budget, technology and convenience decisions by the library. This listing is a very small sample of many...

Scheduling your project

A time crunch could be one of your biggest challenges in completing a successful research paper. Take the time now to plan your deadlines it will help you get going and tell you when to wrap up one step and move on to the next. Step 1 - Getting started planning the process Step 2 - Discovering and choosing a topic Step 3 - Looking for and forming a focus Step 4 - Gathering information detail research

Searching the catalog by subject and keyword

The subject field of a catalog record contains only the words or phrases used by the cataloguer when assigning a subject heading. If the library is using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), for example, the subject heading for a book about how playing football affects the players' bodies would probably be assigned the subject heading Football--physiological aspects. Unless you type in that entire phrase as your search term, you won't find the book by searching the subject field....

So whats missing Why can it be so difficult to do comprehensive research on the

What's not on the Web--at least not for free--are most of the comprehensive reference works you'd find in a library reference room and nonfiction collection. Why It costs publishers a lot of money to put together that information and they're in business to sell it--they have nothing else to sell. They're not in the same position as an investment company who can author and publish some free information about investing techniques and then make money by selling you a mutual fund. These book...

Start organizing your notes

Start organizing your notes into logical groups. You may notice a gap in your research, or a more heavy weighting to one aspect of the subject than what you had intended. Starting to organize as you gather information can save an extra trip to the library. It's better to find the gap now instead of the night before your paper is due (obviously ). Look through the articles linked under Organizing Information (p. 52), which includes taking notes, outlining and organizing by mapping, cubing, etc.

Suggested times for each step

The suggested percentages of time are to give you an idea in general how you may want to divide up your time between now and the time your paper is due. As you can see, the research steps are projected at 60 of the total time, while writing is 40 . Depending on how complex your topic is and how much you know about it at the beginning, your time could be more or less heavily weighted toward research versus writing. As you work through the Step by Step approach, you will find that you'll need...

Table of Contents

Step by Step Research & Writing Page Why the Step by Step Approach 3 Step 1 - Getting Started - preparing for the assignment and getting ready to choose a topic 4 Scheduling Your Project - a worksheet 8 Step 2 - Discovering and Choosing a Topic - reading to Step 3 - Looking for and Forming a Focus - exploring your Step 4 - Gathering Information - which clarifies and supports Step 5 - Preparing to Write - analyzing and organizing your information and forming a thesis statement 15 Step 6 -...

The government posts a large volume of information

Some statistical, some educational or informative. One of government's most important functions is dissemination of information, and the Web has become a way to get information to those who need it--state and local governments, businesses, taxpayers, educators. The results of government-funded studies are increasingly disseminated via the Web as well as in print, and these are often a great source for research material. The National Park Service, Library of Congress and many other government...

Things youre not likely to find on the Web for free

encyclopedias (the CD-ROM versions are selling too well) index and abstract services (very labor-intensive to produce but are essential to a scholarly researcher looking for journal articles and therefore very profitable to sell to libraries) books that are still under copyright full-text nonfiction books on scholarly topics most scholarly journal articles (this is changing) pre-1994 (pre-Web) magazine and newspaper articles (this may change) If you look at the list of what's not on the Web,...

Think about possible topics

The word topic is used variably by many teachers of writing and research to mean anything from the very general subject matter to the very specific thesis statement. In this manual, the term topic is broadly defined, while focus means a narrower perspective on the topic, and thesis statement is the main point of your paper, which cannot be determined until after research and analysis is complete. Look over Step 2, Discovering a Topic, and Step 3, Looking for and Forming a Focus for more...

Think about the assignment the audience and the purpose

To prepare for writing, go over once more the requirements of the assignment to make sure you focus your writing efforts on what's expected by your instructor. Consider the purpose of the paper, either as set forth in the assignment, or as stated in your thesis statement--are you trying to persuade, to inform, to evaluate, to summarize Who is your audience and how will that affect your paper What prior knowledge can you assume the audience has on the topic What style and tone of writing are...

Understand the assignment

Read over the instructions for the assignment to make sure you fully understand what the instructor has in mind and on what basis you will be graded. The Roane State Community College OWL (Online Writing Lab) (Henley, 1996) describes some common types of research papers as Sometimes, a teacher will assign topics or give students a range of topics to choose from and ask that the students write a research paper on the topic. This type of research paper is really a form of individual study. The...

URLs

Understand the construction of a URL. Sometimes a hyperlink will take you to a URL such as You should know that the page howto.html is part of a site called www.sampleurl.com. If this page turns out to be a not found error, or doesn't have a link to the site's home page, you can try typing in the location box http www.sampleurl.com or to see if you can find a menu or table of contents. Sometimes a file has been moved or its name has changed, but the site itself still has content useful to...

Wheres the information

Searching for information today is both easier and harder than it was when your only choice was the library and its massive card catalog. More information is available than ever before, and you can access information from across the country or around the world. But finding what you want requires more skill on the part of the researcher, mainly because the human intermediaries--the reference librarian and the skilled cataloguer indexer--are largely absent from cyberspace. This means that you,...

Why the Step by Step Approach

There's a ton of information available online about writing papers for college classes, mostly provided by college and university writing departments. But when your political science or biology or economics instructor assigns you a research paper, writing the paper is only half the battle. Before you can start writing, you have to explore the subject to find a topic, locate relevant information, These activities take more time and require different skills than the final step-writing the paper....

Wildcards and truncation

This involves substituting symbols for certain letters of a word so that the search engine will retrieve items with any letter in that spot in the word. The syntax may allow a symbol in the middle of a word (wildcard) or only at the end of the word (truncation). This feature makes it easier to search for related word groups, like woman and women by using a wildcard such as wom*n Truncation can be useful to search for a group of words like invest, investor, investors, investing, investment,...

Write the rough draft visit the OWLs

Here's where the Online Writing Labs excel--there are many dozens of great articles on every aspect of writing your paper. The Links to Online Resources pages (p. 51) have classified these by topic so that you can browse easily and pick out articles you want to read. The entire Links for Writing section will be helpful, and specifically the sections on Title, introduction and conclusion Writing style and technique

Info Search finding collecting and recording

This is the step most people think of when they think of library research. It's a hunt for information in any available form (book, periodical, CD, video, internet) which is pertinent to your chosen focus. Once you know the focus of your research, there are lots of tools and strategies to help you find and collect the information you need. Your information search should be focused and specific, but pay careful attention to serendipity (finding, by chance, valuable things you weren't even...

Try different topics on for size

The topic you choose should fit in several important respects your interests and knowledge, the purpose of the assignment, the type of paper (report, issue, argument), the length of the paper. Don't worry too much about having a broad topic at this point--in Step 3 you'll be looking for a focus to narrow the topic down to a manageable size for research and writing. Look for topic ideas at Researchpaper.com (http www.researchpaper.com ) or in your library. Ask the reference librarian if the...

New Encyclopaedia Britannica

Chicago Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1993. Considered by many to be the premier English-language general encyclopedia. The writing is scholarly and therefore sometimes difficult to understand in a subject area with which you're unfamiliar. Articles in the Micropaedia are short and fact-filled, while the Macropaedia has long articles surveying broad aspects of a topic. Very extensive list of bibliographic references at the end of each article so you can find additional...

Know how to use your source materials and cite them

See the section Citing sources on the Links page p. 52 . There's also a nice section on using sources in the middle of another article entitled Writing a General Research Paper from the Roane State Community College OWL Henley, 1996 . The section, What Happens When the Sources Seem to be Writing My Paper For Me describes how to break up long quotations and how to cite an author multiple times without letting the author take over your paper, and it links to both the MLA and the APA style...

Find out how to search for journals and newspapers at your library

Most libraries have either print, CD-ROM, or online either in the library or sometimes on the Web indexes of magazine, journal and newspaper articles referred to as periodicals available for users. Some of these are abstracts of the articles, which are short summaries written to describe the article's contents in enough detail so that a reader can decide whether or not to seek out the full text. Some of these sources may be in the form of full text, where the entire articles have been entered...

How does information get onto the Web anyway

Until 1994 or 1995, most of the information on the internet which then migrated to the Web was posted by scientists, educators, students and the government. Since then, commercial use of the Web has exploded and so has the posting of hobby pages or personal home pages, many of which are posted by the same people who also use the Web for their work at universities or business enterprises. Scholarly or informative material which might be useful to a researcher gets posted on the Web in a number...