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)
- Used appropriately, search engines can be a very powerful and useful tool to facilitate your research. Everyone should use them — but use them wisely.
- As general a rule, you should not 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.
- 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 in the subject and the relevant scholars is as important as (and is part of) researching the subject
- 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 6, 2010