Research Rules to Live By


  1. Don't re-invent the wheel: use others' work to fuel your own research
  2. Let your feet (and fingers) do the walking: physical browsing can be as good or better than electronic searching
  3. Schedule for serendipity: browsing the library stacks is one of the best ways to discover new resources
  4. Get to know bibliographic records. They are your friends
  5. Don't do it alone: Use library services (ILL, Librarians, Reference desks, Chat, etc.)
  6. Google is good (but only to a point)
  7. Start broadly then limit thoughtfully
  8. Use Union lists: learn what is "out there"
  9. Don't avoid library catalogs
  10. Don't forget about print resources.
    • Many electronic indexes only go back only 10 or 20 years. For in-depth research, you'll often need to go back further.
    • Check to see what the print equivalent of (or precursor to) an electronic index is. Does it go back farther than the electronic index?  If so, consider using it.
    • To see if an electronic index/database has a print equivalent, go to the All Databases page under "Search & Find > Articles & Databases" and click on the Info icon to the left of the database name. If there's a print equivalent, it should be listed here.
    • However, there are still many significant indexes that are not available online. To locate them, first check the library's subject guides for your area. Then try searching the catalog:
      1. Go to our advanced catalog search
      2. Enter "bibliography or index" in a search box and select "Subject" from the adjacent drop-down menu. 
      3. Then either limit to "Serial" under "Format Type" or enter "periodicals" in another search box and select "Subject."
      4. Last, enter a keyword for your subject area in another box and select "Search."
      5. If you get too many results, you can try searching the keyword as a "Subject" or limiting to a particular language (choose from the drop-down menu under "Limit to").
    • Remember that our library may not own everything you identify using indexes. Through interlibrary loan, however, you should be able to get almost anything you need, and get it quickly. Use it!
  11. Learning about the history of research in the subject and the relevant scholars is as important as (and is part of) researching the subject
  12. If you find what looks to be a promising source, don't give up on it
  13. Keep a good record of everything you look at (or at least everything you take notes from)
  14. Join academic listservs They are an invaluable resource (for now and later)

Last modified: December 15, 2015