BEFORE YOU START YOUR RESEARCH
Set up a RefWorks account to
Save and organize research materials; add notes
Create and export citations in the required citation format (i.e. APA, MLA)
SJSU Group Code (needed for access from off-campus): rwsjsu
Video tutorials are available on the RefWorks YouTube channel
Find basic / background information on your topic
Inform yourself on your topic! You do not need to become an expert but it helps to know the basics before looking for research materials.
Nobody wants you to use it but everyone does: Wikipedia.
Provides background information that broadens knowledge and opens up different ways of looking at a topic
Provides names, dates, theories, concepts, policies, court cases, etc. that would otherwise take much more time to find
Helps collect search terms and keywords (see C. below)
Remember: Do not use, copy/paste, cite Wikipedia in your research unless given *explicit* permission by your instructor.
Think about / collect search terms for your topic
Use the search terms you found in Wikipedia
Find alternate search terms; use a Thesaurus where applicable
Organize your search terms with the Four-Boxes Method:
(What am I going to write about?)
(Who or what is affected by the issue, problem, topic?)
(What is it I want to achieve with this paper? - Make sure you know which type of paper you are writing)
(Here go all of the findings that may not fit anywhere initially but could prove of value as your research progresses)
Choose the databases you want to search
Many research topics are interdisciplinary. Do not limit yourself to just one database or discipline; instead, take a comprehensive approach.
Check the online Research Guides for easy access to relevant databases.
CONDUCTING YOUR RESEARCH
Searching for books
Provide solid foundation on topics on an academic level
Well-suited for deeper research on ideas, theories, and concepts
Great resources for finding search terms and keywords
Include bibliographies that provide relevant and related sources
Search CSU+ if a book is not available or listed in OneSearch
Tip: If finding books proves difficult, go to amazon.com, look what is available there and then see if the books you found on amazon are in the library catalog.
Searching in databases
Completing a search:
Conduct your initial search by choosing broad research terms
Next, narrow down your search results:
Most databases offer a variety of ways to narrow down search results
Include common criteria that narrow your search to only scholarly/peer reviewed articles within a certain date range
Lastly, further narrow down your search by utilizing the search terms, keywords you have previously gathered;
Aim to end up with about 20-30 resources that closely match your topic
Using an article record to find more information
Look at the subjects listed for the articles you find; write down those terms/keywords and use them for more/different searches
Look at what else the author has published
Look for other articles in the same journal (different volumes or years)
Look at the list of references to find more relevant sources
Getting the article
When the article’s full text is available, it is usually a PDF
The orange FIND IT button means the article is available elsewhere:
In another database
On the library’s shelves
By using Interlibrary Loan (aka ILL, ILLIAD, Interlibrary Services)
To use ILL, you must first create an ILL account
Once you have an account, whenever an article is not available in full-text after having clicked the FIND IT button, select the Interlibrary Loan link from the choices presented and sign in. You will find that all information has been prefilled and all you need to do is hit the submit button. Articles are usually made available within 2-3 days.
Finding and accessing research materials you already have a citation for
Search OneSearch by title or author
If the book is unavailable, click the CSU Resource Sharing Request link to see if another library can send it to you (usually within 3-5 days)
If still unavailable, use Interlibrary Loan to request it (this can take up to 3 weeks)
Click the Journal Titles tab on top of the OneSearch bar
Search by journal title to see if we subscribe to the journal; do not abbreviate the title of the journal in any way. If the library has the journal, check to see if the year of your citation falls within the date range the library subscribes to.
Open the link that matches your citation’s date range; navigate to the correct year/volume to find the article. You can also use the “search within this publication” function that is now available for most journals.
If the article is not available electronically, check to see if the library has a print version. To do so, use the regular library catalog, not the Journal Titles tab. Look for the journal title without the words “electronic access” next to it to locate what the library has available in print on the lower level (LL) of the library.
If the journal is not available in print or electronically, order the article with the use of Interlibrary Loan.
CITING YOUR RESOURCES
Importance of knowing/using citations:
Helps with your research
Identifies what it is you are looking at (book, article, etc.)
Speeds up the process of finding and accessing what you need
Citing of materials used in your own research/works/papers is a *must*
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Consistently updated and expanded; highly reliable; easy to use
Exhaustive resource for APA and MLA with detailed examples
Physical copies of Style Manuals
Available in the Ready Reference section (2nd floor: BF76.7 .P83 2010)