Research refresher
Fall 2006


Publication timeline ...
Day of an event ... TV, radio, Internet ;
Days immediately following an event ... add newspaper articles to list of possible resources (begin to use article databases) ;
Week(s) immediately following an event ... add popular magazine articles to list of possible resources (use article databases) ;
Month(s) immediately following an event ... add journal articles to list of possible resources (use article databases) ;
About a year and beyond an event ... add books and videos to list of possible resources (use library catalogs)

Evaluate! Evaluate! Evaluate!
Authority (who is responsible for the information?) ;
Objectivity (is the information objective or biased?) ;
Timeliness (is the publication date is important to your research?) ;
Content (does the information actually address your needs?)

Periodicals ...
Magazines, journals, newspapers ...
Magazines = articles are typically written for the general population ;
Journals = articles are typically written for a focused population (a profession, for example)
Article databases ...
Contain citations to articles and/or abstracts of articles and/or full text articles from periodicals ;
Some cover a broad spectrum of subjects ;
Some are subject focused ;
Some provide only citations to or abstracts of articles ;
Some allow the researcher to limit to only articles that are available in full text
Caution!  Full text does not necessarily mean Best or Most Recent!  Articles are not reviewed before being added to article databases!  Some periodical publishers will not put the full text of an article into a database until 6 or more months after the in-print article appears!
Some allow the researcher to limit to peer-reviewed or refereed publications (journals) ;
The researcher must choose article databases that are relevant to the research project

Keyword searching, Boolean operators, truncation ...
Keyword searching is an option found in article databases and library catalogs ;
It allows the researcher to search using key words and phrases (rather than Subject searches) ;
It allows the researcher to make use of Boolean operators and truncation
Boolean operators allow the researcher to link key words and phrases for inclusion or exclusion:
AND says that all the words/phrases be present in each item of the results list (AND narrows the search) ;
OR says any of the words/phrases should be present in items on the results lists (OR expands the search) ;
NOT says exclude all words/phrases after it (OR narrows the search)
Truncation allows the researcher to type in the beginning of a word (usually at least 3 letters) and append a symbol ;
Many article databases use the * symbol
Hartness' catalog uses the $ symbol
Example: EMPLOY* will retrieve "employ", "employs", "employee", "employment", etc. in InfoTrac OneFile
Examples:
blues and music = probable results: items about the blues musical style ;
blues or music = probable results: items about the blues (music & emotion) or items about music (all styles) ;
blues not music = probable results: items about the blues (emotion) ;
(blues and music) or clapton not score*= probable results: items about the blues musical style or about Eric Clapton but no musical scores

Web sites ...
Web site evaluation is perhaps the trickiest part of researching ;
Basically anyone can put up a web site about any thing, and make it look professional ;
Think about Wikipedia ... it can be edited by anyone ;
Check out the "About us" pages on unfamiliar web sites ;
Try using a subject directory (put together by people) instead of a search engine (put together electronically) ... it might save you some time!

maggie