RESEARCH HELP: GETTING STARTED

This webpage is designed to give you an introduction to best practices for basic research in the library.  On this page you will find information on:

  1. Focusing a research topic.
  2. Developing good keywords for searching.
  3. How to search for books and articles.
  4. Evaluating the information you find.
  5. Where to go for more help.

 

1. Focusing a Research Topic

Many times when students choose a reseach topic, they start with a broad topic idea (i.e. Gun control, childhood education, nursing practice).  It would be very difficult to cover the scope of these topics in just a few pages.  Instead, it is better to focus on a narrower aspect of these topics.

The quickest way to focus a search topic is to turn that broad topic idea into a research question. Phrasing your topic as a question forces you to think about what aspects of that topic you are truly interested in researching. Think of a one sentence question you will answer in your research and writing.

For example:

Broad Topic Idea: Gun control

Research Question: How can we better prevent children bringing guns to school?

If you need help moving from a broad topic idea to a more focused research question, try mind-mapping!  This is a great way to brainstorm the many aspects of a broad topic, and allows you to visualize these aspects before choosing one to focus on.

Mind-Map Example:

 

 

2. Developing Good Keywords for Searching

Keywords are the most significant words or main ideas from your proposed research question; and the words you will use to search for information on your topic. 

There are two parts to developing the best keywords to research your topic:

  • A. Identifying your primary keywords
  • B. Identifying synonyms or related words

 

A. Identifying Primary Keywords

Look at the research question you wrote out.  Take out all the little words like if, it, is, in, of, to, and a.  Take out any generic words like effects, problems, consequences, impact, etc.  Focus on the few remaining words that get to the heart of your topic.  For example:

Research Question: How can we better prevent children bringing guns to school?

Primary Keywords: prevent, children, guns, school

 

B. Identifying Synonyms or Related Words

When you search within a library resource (i.e. an article database), most often the database is trying to match the EXACT keyword you type in the search box to the same word within an article.  This means you will run into trouble if you are not using the right words to find the best articles.

To develop the best keywords for your topic, make a list of the primary keywords you just identified then think of any related terms or synonyms you could use instead.  With this exercise, you are building yourself a troubleshooting net so that if your first searches don't find what you're looking for - you have a list of other words you can try instead.

Example:

Primary Keywords

  • Prevent
  • Children
  • Guns
  • School

Related Keywords/Synonyms

  • prevention, preventing, stop
  • kids, youth
  • weapons
  • middle school, high school, class

 

3. How to Search for Books and Articles

In this section you will learn how to find:

  • A. Background information on your topic
  • B. Books and ebooks using Library OneSearch
  • C. Journal and newspaper articles using Library OneSearch
  • D. Articles from a specific library database

 

A. Finding Background information on Your Topic

If you don't know much about your topic, a great place to start is an encyclopedia entry on your topic.   Encyclopedias will give you a basic, general overview of the topic.  Pay attention to any keywords or important names in these entries that you can add to your keyword list.

Encyclopedia entries can also help you focus your broad topic by pointing out aspects of the topic you may not have considered.

To search the libraries online encyclopedias, visit our Encyclopedias and Dictionaries page.

 

B. Finding Books and Ebooks using Library OneSearch

The library's OneSearch tool allows you to search nearly all of the library book, ebooks, and article databases with one search box.

To find books and ebooks with OneSearch - enter your keywords into the searchbox on the main page of library website: www.hennepintech.edu/library

Your results will be displayed in two columns - Books & More on the left and Articles & More on the right. 

  • The Books & More column has all physical items from the library collection (books, DVDs, and audiobooks) as well as ebooks and streaming academic videos.

To remove the article results and only view book results click the Books & More heading.

For more information on accessing our print, ebook, and academic streaming videos from the Books & More results, please see our Using Library OneSearch guide.

 

C. FindingJournal and Newspaper Articles Using Library OneSearch

The library's OneSearch tool allows you to search nearly all of the library book, ebooks, and article databases with one search box.

To find journal and newspaper articles with OneSearch - enter your keywords into the searchbox on the main page of library website: www.hennepintech.edu/library

Your results will be displayed in two columns - Books & More on the left and Articles & More on the right. 

  • The Articles & More column provides a large selection or relevant journal and newspaper articles pulled from the libraries article databases.

To remove the book results and only view article results click the Articles & More heading.

For more information on accessing and viewing full text articles from the Articles & More results, including tips for narrowing and improving your search results, please see our Using Library OneSearch guide.

 

D. Finding Articles from a Specific Library Database

To bypass the Library OneSearch tool and find articles within a specific database, go to the library website (www.hennepintech.edu/library), and click on the gray Find a Database tab located above the OneSearch searchbox.

On this page, you can access any of the library's 30+ research databases. 

  • If you know the name of the database you want to search: use the alphabet to navigate to the database.
  • If you do not know which database to use: find your program from the drop-down menu and click the Browse button to get a listing of recommended databases for your program area.  Select a database from this listing.

Once you get in to your selected database, enter your keywords into the database search box to retrieve articles related to your research topic.

For more information on accessing individual library databases, as well as tips and best practices for database searching, using database limits, and troubleshooting your search - please visit the Finding Books and Articles in the Library guide.  

If you have tried several database searches and are not finding the information you seek, please contact the library for assistance via our Ask the Library page.

 

4. Evaluating the Information You Find

There are many criteria to keep in mind as you are evaluating the information you find, whether it is from the open internet or from a library database:

  •  Who wrote it? 
  •  What are the author's credentials? 
  •  When was it written? 
  •  Does the author back up the information with citations or references? 
  •  Where are they getting their information from?

The following handouts list specific, detailed criteria you should consider as you are evaluating library sources and websites from the open Internet (i.e. Google):

 - Evaluating Library Sources

 - Evaluating Websites

You can also practice your website evaluation skills with the library research guide: Evaluating Websites 

 

5. Where to Go for More Help

If you need further assistance, here are several options:

  1. Call or email the librarian for assistance: Jennie Simning, 952-995-1533, jennie.simning@hennepintech.edu
  2. Stop in to the library to talk with any of the library staff.
  3. Chat with a librarian using the 24/7 chat service on our Ask the Library page
  4. Visit the Research Tools & Guides page for access to program-specific online research guides and tools like the Research Project Calculator.
  5. Visit the Writing & Citing Help page if you need assistance with creating citations or writing a paper.

 

The Library


Last updated by admin : 2015-02-04 20:36:26