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.
- You have to learn what is "out there," and how the information is organized before you can search effectively.
- Searching should begin by testing the waters, so start by searching broadly .
- Start with just one or more search terms and then either add terms, or focus those terms (based on what you learn by looking at choice bibliographic records — see Rule #4) as you go.
- Be sure to take advantage of limiting your searches to particular "fields" of information (subject, title, author, citation, abstract, etc.), to particular date ranges, information sources (particular journals), or formats (newspapers, trade journals, scholarly journals, fulltext, etc.) if the database allows.
- 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