Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday: Tips for E-Research

Research can be pretty daunting -- so many possible starting places, so little time. Online resources can help us locate useful, quality information, as well as meet deadlines if used systematically. The following list presents one possible strategy: begin with general resources and progress to more specialized resources.

10. Start with Wikipedia for topic overviews.
While not considered appropriate for most academic papers, encyclopedias like Wikipedia are good starting spots because they can help us understand a topic well enough to begin researching it.

9. Read the
library's e-books (and print books, too).
Books offer in-depth discussions, have indexes for locating specific information, provide recommended reading lists, and can help you obtain a lot of information in a short time.

Use Google Scholar to begin locating materials.
Use this tool to locate article citations and, perhaps, links to articles in Tarleton Libraries' databases via SFX. It's a handy way to get a sampling of the research materials available on your topic.

7. Advance to the Tarleton Libraries' web site.

When you're ready to locate scholarly sources (i.e. when your instructor says "use peer-reviewed resources" or "locate some credible books on this subject"), go to your library -- either online or in person. Check out the resources, tips, and services available to you as part of the Tarleton community. You may be surprised at the resources that await you.

6. Check out the library's
subject research guides.
These guides offer "starter" lists of databases and selected Internet sites, which are organized by subject to help "jumpstart" your research.

5. Search the
library databases.
Using the library's databases gives you access to 1000s of electronic journals, trade magazines, and newspaper, as well as article citations, research reports, and online reference works.

4. Use
interlibrary loan to get more materials.
If what you want/need isn't available via your Tarleton library (either electronically or in print), ask us to get it for you via your ILLiad account.

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.
Use evaluation criteria like authority, currency, reliability, etc. to help you choose resources worthy of being in your papers/projects.

2. Use the University Writing Center's
citation resources.
The Writing Center staff can help you organize, develop, and document all types of research papers -- in person and online.

1. Confused? Ask for assistance.
Use Dick Smith Library's Ask a Librarian email reference, call the library's Information Desk (254-968-9249), or stop by during library hours. We can help you locate resources, give you tips for searching the library's database/catalog, and assist you in figuring out how to cite sources.