Quick Start Tutorial
SIX STEPS FOR FINDING INFORMATION:
Library you will need your MyESC login and password]
1. Navigate the Library Website:
There are 6 main sections of the library website outlined in red above:
- Get Started: Everything you need to get started with your research, including Dictionary & Encyclopedia Search.
- Journals & Articles: search for articles using our collection of databases.
- Books: search for e-books, or print books anywhere in the world.
- Cite Your Sources: how to create your bibliography and footnotes (or in-text citations.)
- Help: Ask A Librarian via e-mail, phone, or web chat. You can also access our how-tos (tutorials) here.
- Search Tips & News: this area shows current tips & news articles from our Library Research Blog.
2. Identify Your Topic
First, determine what kind of information you need for your assignment, then develop a research topic and question:
3. Find Keywords That Describe Your Topic and Create a Search
- View/print the Create a Search (Search Log) worksheet (use the left-side "More" link on the page to print)
Once you have a research question, you need to extract key words from it. One way to find keywords is to use a "concept chart." This is a visual way to analyze the concepts of your research question so that keywords can be identified. Try searching thesauri, dictionaries or specialized encyclopedias for locating alternate terminology. Then insert them into a chart as below and use the AND search operator between each set of concepts to create a search. OR is used to combine synonyms, and parentheses are used to group them.
Example research paper topic:
Compare "Contingency Management" and "Theory Z" styles in the United States.
Break this question down into it's main topics and find alternate terminology:
AND Concept 2: "theory Z"
AND Concept 3: "United States" OR America
Possible search query: "contingency management" and "theory z" and ("United States" or America)
- Tips for creating a search query:
- Determine your information needs: view/print Info Needs Checklist (use the left-side "More" link on the page to print)
- Use double quotes around two or more words to search for an exact phrase.
- Try mixing and matching your keywords to create the right search for the resource you are using.
- Look for options to limit the search to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals.
- Look at a relevant article or book list of references to find related resources.
[More Information: Selecting Keywords and Using Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) (print version) and Additional Search Techniques]
4. Get Definitions and Background Information
You can use the Dictionary & Encyclopedia Search link to search dictionaries, specialized encyclopedias and biographical resources to get background information. If you can find entries for your topic, it should give you some good, basic information about what the topic is, alternate terminology, etc. which you can then use to inform your more in-depth research using the journal and book resources mentioned below (note: encyclopedias are not considered sufficient to use as the only or primary source for most research assignments).
5. Find Journal and Newspaper Articles and Books
For most any academic research you need to use library resources:
- Why Google should not be your primary research tool.
- Video Tutorial: Databases (on page, click on "Databases" link on the right side. Content: what is a database? How do I use it?, What's a peer-reviewed article?)
- To locate articles and books on a topic, click on the All Resources by Subject link in the upper left of the library home page, or if you prefer an alphabetical listing of all resources, the Databases by title link just below it. If you have a specific journal you are looking for, try the Full-text Journal Finder. If you're unsure where to start, you might also try the Multi-Database Search tool.
- EBSCOhost - journals and newspapers
- E-Book Catalog (under the "Books" section) - search citation info of 55,000+ e-books from 10 different collections & access full-text.
- ebrary (under "Books" section) - search the full-text of 35,000+ e-books within this single collection.
- ProQuest - journals and newspapers
- JSTOR - scholarly journals going back to the 19th century
To find material that isn't available in full-text online, use WorldCat to see if a nearby library has it in print. Also see: Locating a LIbrary Near You
6. Document Your Information Sources
Three things to continually keep in the back of your mind while compiling information for a research assignment:
- Evaluate your information sources - you must analyze them for accuracy, currency and possible bias.
- Cite your sources - organize and format your sources for in-text citations and bibliography using MLA, APA or other style.
For a more in-depth overview of conducting research using the library, see A Six Step Approach to Research and Library Resources Orientation / (or print version)