Research Tips

 

Where to start

When doing graduate research, you’ll be expected to use scholarly sources of information. Library catalogs and research databases will allow you to identify and access these sources most efficiently and effectively.

  • Library Catalogs
    • For books on your subject
    • For books by an author you are familiar with in your subject area
      Tip: When you go to the shelf in the library to locate a book you have identified for your research, browse that section of the shelf for other books you might be able to use.
    • Library catalogs do not include journal articles.
  • Research databases can provide access to relevant journal articles, book titles, and other items on your topic.

 

Why use research databases?

Literature, particularly in the sciences, has been growing exponentially for the past several years. The research databases that AUNE Library subscribes to have started your research for you by reviewing this literature, organizing it, and making it easily searchable. When you use a research database, you can be assured that the literature referred to is relevant, worthwhile, and comes from appropriate sources. Also, many of our subscription research databases either contain the full text of journal articles or provide links to full text.

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Tips for database research

  • Define your topic as precisely as possible. If your research results are too large, try narrowing your subject by a particular population, age group, species, time period, specific disorder, geographic location, etc. Check with your instructor for help with this or contact your reference librarian, who can help you focus your topic and design an effective research strategy.
  • Every database has a particular way of doing research. Look for Help screens, Tutorials, and Subject indexes (sometimes called a Thesaurus). Most databases have very good instructional tools and give good search examples.

 

Doing research on the Internet

The Internet provides access to a vast amount of information and much of it can be useful. However, a lot of it is of questionable value at best, and so far there are no standards of quality for information made available through the Internet. Use the Internet to supplement your research but keep the following in mind:

  1. Anyone can put up anything on the Internet – if you can’t identify the source of the information, or its accuracy, don’t use it.
  2. Consider carefully the source of information you find on the Internet. One good clue is the domain name – what kind of a website is it?
    • Does the URL end in .com? This usually indicates a company or commercial sitethey probably have something to sell. This is not to say that you can’t get good information from a .com site, but do consider this when evaluating a site overall.
    • .edu or .gov in the URL indicate that the site was produced either by an academic institution (.edu) or by the government (.gov) – usually indicators of worthwhile information.
    • Look for ‘advanced search’ when using a search engine.Many search engines have ways of limiting your search to either specific domains, which can help cut down on the junk returned as well as the number of hits you will have to wade through. For example:
      • site:edu post-traumatic stress disorder will search websites that are registered as academic institutions
      • site:gov global climate change will search government websites
  3. Use Google Scholar instead of Google. When you find articles through Google Scholar, you can then use the Journals A-Z list to determine if the AUNE Library provides access to the full-text of the article.  You can also set preferences in Google Scholar to link directly to our online journal collections.
  4. Important note: If you are going to cite an Internet source in a research paper, be sure to accurately record the URL of the web page. Citing Internet resources.

Links to information on Internet Research:

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What is ‘scholarly literature’?

Most often this refers to articles written by recognized scholars or experts
in a field, published in reputable (peer-reviewed) journals. At its most basic,
‘scholarly literature’ means literature published in journals like Annual
Review of Psychology
, not People or Popular Mechanics.
It is not always so obvious, however, so keep in mind that scholarly literature:

  • should tell you the author’s qualifications for writing the article
  • should provide statistics, charts, graphs, or other supporting research
  • is often in journals published by academic or research institutions or scientific organizations
  • should provide a list of references consulted in writing the article
  • should be published in a peer reviewed journal; that is, articles are read and reviewed by experts before being accepted for publication.

How can you tell if a journal is peer-reviewed?

  • Information about peer-review processes is often provided in a journal’s first page or two
  • Most journals indexed in scholarly research databases such as PsycINFO or Biological Abstracts are peer-reviewed

If you have any questions about whether an article you are using has come from a peer-reviewed journal, contact us, or look at Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory where you can look up a journal by title to see if it is peer-reviewed.

Visit the following websites for more information on scholarly literature:

 

Links to other library support pages

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