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)
    • Used appropriately, search engines like Google can be a very powerful and useful tool to facilitate your research. Everyone should use them — but use them wisely. 
    • As general a rule, don't rely on any information accessed through search engines alone.  
    • Either use this information to help you refine your searches using trusted information sources (through a library website) or verify this information using trusted sources (whether electronic or in print) before using it in your work.
    • Google Scholar, however, CAN be a useful tool in finding trusted information, as it indexes only trusted (though not all "scholarly) resources — newspapers, periodicals, journals, etc.
  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
  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