7 Steps to Powerful Research

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  • 7 Steps to Powerful Researchat the Public Library For middle and high school students

    Developed by the Louisville Free Public Librarys Office of School Support, 2009

  • Step 1: Decide and DevelopWhat is the subject of your research? For ideas on current issues, visit our librarys database called CQ Researcher.A subject is broad and generalA topic is narrow and specific.

    Once you have your subject picked out, narrow it down into a topic youd like to research.Sometimes asking a question about your subject will help you decide on a topic.For example, if your subject is voting, then perhaps your topic question could be should the electoral college be abolished in U.S. elections? The topic of the research then becomes the electoral college.

  • Step 2: Ask Library Staff for Help

    In person at the reference desk -AOL username - askLFPL -Yahoo username - askLFPL -MSN username - askLFPL@hotmail.com

    By email http://www.lfpl.org/forms/ask-lib-email.htm By chat or IMBy phone 574-1611

    Finding the strong search terms can be difficult. Library staff can help you find magazine articles, books and databases that will help you receive the best information. Librarians can help you examine websites to find the valid ones and weed out the hack sites to find the most accurate information.Many times, books and websites are found in many different places in the library or on the web; we can help direct you to materials that will help in your research.

  • Step 3: Gather Background InformationGet Basic Info Pick up an encyclopedia and read about basic information on your topic. If the topic is too specific, read about the subject.

    Read On...If there are any good suggestions of books at the end of the encyclopedia article, note those to look up later. The next few slides will show you some different ways to find background information on your topic using our librarys website.

    Get Basic Info: If you are at the library, pick up an encyclopedia and read about basic information on your topic. If the topic is too specific, read about the subject.

    Read On... If there are any good suggestions of books at the end of the encyclopedia article, note those to look up later. The next few slides will show you some different ways to find background information on your topic at our librarys website.

  • Using a Computer Outside of the LibraryYou will need to have your library card number and password handy to use the librarys databases.

    If you are at a computer outside of the library, you need to have your library card number and password handy to use the databases

  • Go to our librarys webpage. www.lfpl.org. To help remember our website address, think of LFPL standing for Louisville Free Public Library.

    Go to our librarys webpage. www.lfpl.org. To help remember our website address, think of LFPL standing for Louisville Free Public Library. The library is an organization and not a business, thats why its a .org and not a .com website address.

    To get to our research databases and websites, click on the left menu area where it says Research Tools.

  • There are a couple of ways to search our library databases.By subjectThe A to Z index On the Homework Help for Teens page

    Step 4: Use Library Databases and Search for Supporting Websitesdatabase: noun 1. A collection of data arranged for ease and speed of search and retrieval.

    --The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

    The definition of database being arranged for ease and speed of search and retrieval is what distinguishes it from the Internetwhich is not organized in any standardized method.

    Databases sometimes can be used like the Intranet, but the information you find on a database are not accessible through search engines like Google or Yahoo! Most are available only through subscription, or with a fee. The cost of databases are paid by the library, and you are allowed to access them without any charges with your library card. Google and Yahoo! (or other Internet searching engines) create their own databases of websites and organize them by subject (the browse feature).

  • Follow these steps to find databases perfect for MS & HS students

    123Denotes that the site is a library database. Use lots of these in your research!

    Lets now go back to the databases lists.

  • Looking for Encyclopedia Articles?

    Click on the subject heading, Reference.

  • Step 5: Find Books on your TopicUse the librarys online catalog to find books or media on your topic.

  • Scroll down for more branchesIf all books have the status out, you can request to have the book next.

  • Step 6: Find Magazine Articles

    Use the Librarys databases that are magazine indexes (usually yields good results, with full text magazines available online) Browsing through the collection of magazines (much harder to do!)

  • Follow these steps to find magazine articles under the subject heading, Research Papers.

    123

  • Doing a Boolean SearchThe word abolish is an example of a strong search term. A phrase such as do away with instead of abolish is weaker and will yield fewer results. Be sure to ask a library staff person for help if you are not getting any successful results.

    The word abolish is an example of a strong search term. A phrase such as do away with instead of abolish is weaker and will yield fewer results. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the search phrases worded just the way the computer wants them. Be sure to ask a library staff person for help if you are not getting any successful results.

  • What is Boolean searching?

    Use of quotation marksPhrases must be put inside quotation marks. Like electoral college or energy drinks or University of LouisvilleExcluding terms-wordA topic narrowed down to eliminate a lot of hits (number of magazine articles in your result list) you dont need: dogs poodles. That will remove all articles with the dogs that mention poodles. OR allows more than one termDogs OR cats will yield results of articles that mention either dogs OR cats (huge hit list). AND (usually default for terms)Is the small overlap of both termsDogs AND cats will yield results of articles where the two terms are both mentioned in the same article (smaller hit list)

  • After adding your search terms, sift through your results for the most relevant ones

  • But what do the results look like if you removed the term abolish and used do away with instead?

    Using weak search terms usually results in weak results. Ask library staff to help you form your search query (the way you phrase your research for a database or magazine article index).

  • Lets go back and look at the longer result list and see one of the articles.

  • 123Now, based on the title of the article: SHOULD THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE BE ABOLISHED? CON , that seems like a perfect choice for an article for our research paper. But when you start to really look at the article, it was written in 1941. Does that make it unusable? Maybe. Or maybe your research paper states that even in 1941, congress was looking closely at the electoral college and its affect on elections.

    Now, based on the title of the article: SHOULD THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE BE ABOLISHED? CON , that seems like a perfect choice for an article for our research paper. But when you start to really look at the article, it was written in 1941. Does that make it unusable? Maybe. Or maybe your research paper states that even in 1941, congress was looking closely at the electoral college and its affect on elections.These magazine articles found in the database are usually the exact same article found in the original magazine. If its a PDF version, it will include photographs and charts; its a scan of the actual magazine article. If they only full-text available is HTML full text, it will not have images and it will be retyped.

  • Databases vs. Google

    Databases: are easy to use if you know where to find them are academic and reliable yield less results, but more relevant for homework

    BUT: may take a few moments longer to search you may have to use a specific way of searching instead of just typing in keywords

    Looking at the sources here, most of them are from scholarly sources that concentrate mainly on providing information about famous and important figures in the world. Most likely, you will need to look at just one or two of these hits to find all the information you need for writing information about Obamas formative years, career in politics and his interests. While some of the entries might be listed as published several years ago, all of them have been updated with current information.

  • Research DatabasesThe library subscribes to over 60 databases. These databases are not available by just searching the web. We have selected and paid for them just like we do books or magazines in our librarys material collection.

    The library subscribes to over 60 databases. These databases are not available by just searching the web. We have selected and paid for them just like we do books or magazines in our librarys material collection.

  • Google vs. Databases

    Google: is easy to use is quick gives you a bunch of hits

    BUT: its not reliable its not academic doesnt offer expert opinions or analysis usually offers information from a media or selling point of view

    Most of the hits from this search looking for biographical information on Barack Obama are either from the campaign organizations, wikipedia, or from media sources. While none of these sources are bad they are not what you want to look at to find an unbiased descriptio