Respiratory Therapy - South Bend-Elkhart

Where To Start

Before you start any research, you need to step back and determine exactly what you want to accomplish then create a plan for doing so.  

  • Be sure you understand your research assignment.
  • Chose a topic and relate it to your assignment. Be sure you understand the topic, can define and spell it.
  • Determine concepts and keywords that describe your topic.


Make a plan so that you can take logical steps toward your research project.  Each step will prepare you to do a better job with the next step.

  • Think about the topic and how you want to approach it. What information do you want to find.
  • Do a little general research on the topic.  Check out an encyclopedia (Britannica Online) or a dictionary. Look in your textbook or another book on the topic.
  • List the type of information you want.  You may want a history of the topic or statistics, or experiments, pros and cons, or a biography.
  • Once you’ve decided what type of information you want, you need to determine what sources you will need.  Do you need articles, books, case studies, scientific studies, primary sources, etc?

Types of Resources

There are many types of resources available to you using both the material in the Campus Library and the online Virtual Library.  These resources include:

Books are an authoritative form of information, but may not be the most current. Books can be either printed or electronic, and some books are published both ways. They are

Periodicals are published on a regular basis. Examples are journals, magazines, newspapers and trade publications. 

  • Journals are specialized periodicals with generally long authoritative articles aimed at a professional audience and most are peer reviewed. These are the best choice for information about current technical topics in medicine.
  • Magazines are geared to the lay person or casual reader, and often contain short articles and lots of advertising.
  • Newspapers are serial publications, usually printed on newsprint and generally issued daily or weekly, containing news, editorial comment, columns, advertising, comics, etc. 
  • Trade Publications are serials that focus on industry, product and business information in a magazine or newspaper format. These can be a useful way to keep up to date on news and techniques in a field, but usually do not have the same authority that a journal has.
  • Peer Reviewed articles are reviewed by individual experts or a panel of experts prior to being accepted for publication.

Government Documents are materials published by a government agency.  They include reports, studies, statistics, periodicals, posters, etc. This material seldom has copyright restrictions and often can be obtained from the publishing agency for free. The authority is generally considered high because it comes from a government agency, however all government publications are not without controversy or the agency's bias.  

Selecting Keywords

Selecting the keywords you will use in doing your search is very important.  Once you begin your search you will think of others and rethink the ones you started with.  However, it is very important that you try and start with the right terminology.  This will reduce your effort and time to complete your rsearch.



  • Plurals of your keyword ( narcotic - narcotics)
  • Synonyms (child - youngster, juvenile, kid)
  • Alternative spelling
  • Broader terms (gene therapy – genetics)
  • Narrower Terms (nutrition – vitamins)
  • Variations of the root term (minimal, minimalist, minimalism)

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are terms which help you search databases for specific information and assist you in getting what you need in an efficient and timely manner.

  • AND - combines terms or ideas and narrows your search
  • OR - expands your options and broadens your search
  • NOT - limits your search by excluding certain terms or ideas

Watch the video at the bottom of the page to get a better understanding of using Boolean Operators.

Boolean Operators

This video provides a basic explanation of how to use Boolean operators in database searching; produced by a librarian at Shurz Library, IU South Bend.

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