Research Rules to Live By
- Don't re-invent the wheel: use others' work to fuel your own research
- Let your feet (and fingers) do the walking: physical browsing can be as good or better than electronic searching
- Schedule for serendipity: browsing the library stacks is one of the best ways to discover new resources
- Get to know bibliographic records. They are your friends
- Don't do it alone: Use library services (ILL, Librarians, Reference desks, Chat, etc.)
- Google is good (but only to a point)
- Start broadly then limit thoughtfully
- Use Union lists: learn what is "out there"
- Don't avoid library catalogs
- Don't forget about print resources
- Learning about the history of research or criticism in the subject — including the relevant scholars — is as important as (and is part of) researching the subject.
- Understanding the context of scholarship, where it fits in the history of the field of study (what time, what country, what movement, etc.), should be a precursor to using that scholar's work or critical approach in your own work.
- Citing someone else's scholarship in your own work requires that you have some sense of how that person's work has been received over time.
- Not all criticism/research/scholarship is equal, nor is it fixed in value.
- To really know the major critical works in your field, you must also be familiar with the works cited in those major works.
- The Web of Science (a citation index) is a unique resource in that it can allow you to do " back door research" (Google Scholar also allows for this to a more limited degree).
- You can locate articles that have cited a particular seminal article or author in your field (Note. This will return only those articles in publications indexed by Web of Science or Google Scholar).
- You can find out how many times a particular source has been cited by others in the field (relative importance).
- For some records, you can see the list of works cited.
- Use the "Find Related Records" search and the database will show you other articles that cited the same, or similar sources.
- If you find what looks to be a promising source, don't give up on it
- Keep a good record of everything you look at (or at least everything you take notes from)
- Join academic listservs They are an invaluable resource (for now and later)
Last modified: October 9, 2014