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How to do Research - Central Indiana: How To Do Research

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Do you have one of these?

It's called many things: jump drive, thumb drive, travel drive, USB drive, flash drive......but whatever you call it get one to save all of your school documents.  Keep it with you at all times and use it !!!  As soon as you start your Word document or your PowerPoint project save your work to your jump drive and keep saving your documents as you work.  It will save much time and grief if something happens to your work and you haven't saved it.  These drives are not expensive.  Check the newspaper flyers and often you can find them on sale for less than $10.  The following document, prepared by Mary Williams (Ivy Tech faculty member),  will explain how to rename your drive in case you lose it and also how to save documents.  Click HERE.

Seven Steps to Great Research

Developing a basic search strategy enables you to research a specific topic in an organized manner. Consider these seven steps and assess how you might apply them to your next project.

1) Identify and develop your topic. Be flexible with your topic within the scope of the assignment instructions. If your chosen topic is too broad or vague, you will find too much information and will need to narrow your topic. If it is too specific, you will not find enough information and will need to broaden your topic. Consult your instructor if you have questions about your choice of topic.

2) Find background information. Background information is used to gain a deeper understanding of your topic and to become familiar with the terminology you'll find in books and journals. Encyclopedias and dictionaries are examples of reference resources you can use to locate background information. Reference resources are available on the Ivy Tech Virtual Library and include Britannica Online, CredoReference, Oxford Reference Online Premium, and AccessScience.

3) Locate books. Books provide broader and more in-depth coverage of subjects than do magazine and journal articles, although information in books may not be the most current. You can locate books and electronic books (ebooks) using IvyCat, the Ivy Tech library catalog. A list of ebook resources is also located on Virtual Library. NetLibrary, ebrary, Books 24X7, and Humanities eBooks are examples of fulltext ebook collections providing over 40,000 online books.

4) Locate articles. Magazine, journal, and newspaper articles may provide more current information about a topic. Journal articles (especially peer-reviewed) cover specific fields of research. Article databases are available on the Virtual Library and include databases from EBSCO, ProQuest, Gale, and other sources.

5) Find Internet resources. Internet sites that are suitable for academic research are also an option. Governmental and educational websites may provide valuable insights. Links to websites are included in the library resource guides. Online fulltext scholarly journal databases such as the Directory of Open Access Journals may also offer relevant information.

6) Evaluate what you have found. Before you use a book, article, or website for your paper or speech or other project, evaluate its usefulness for your research needs. After evaluating the resources you find, decide if you have enough information to complete your assignment. If not, you might broaden your topic and search for additional resources using new key words. If you have questions about revising your search, a librarian can assist you. Apply the following evaluation criteria to your source:

a. Purpose: Is the resource written to inform, present opinions, report research, or sell products?
b. Authority: Is the author known? What are the author's credentials?
c. Accuracy: Is the information correct and free from errors?
d. Timeliness: Is the information current enough, or is it out-of-date?
e. Coverage: Does the source cover the topic in depth or is it a broad overview?
f. Objectivity: Does the information show bias or does it present multiple viewpoints?

7) Cite your sources. Citing the sources used in your research gives credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows your readers to locate the sources that you have listed.  Two common formats for citing sources are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). MLA and APA format guides are available on the Virtual Library [Help, Citing Sources]. Be sure to check with your professor to find out which format you will be expected to use. Representing the work of others as your own is plagiarism. Avoid plagiarism by citing your sources.

(1/06) Adapted with permission from "The Seven Steps of the Research Process", created by the Reference Department; Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS); Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA  [http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill1.htm]. This outline maybe adapted for non-commercial use

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