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" .
- Article indexes give you a sense of what is "out there" in article form (they index everything in a particular subject, regardless of whether your library owns it or not). WorldCat does the same thing for books. It gives you the big picture.
- Using WorldCat can help you understand the universe of information (in book form) on your topic. You get a sense of this in articles by searching article indexes/databases. You need to get the same sense of what is "out there" in book form. Potentially, this is all available to you for your research.
- Note that the version of WorldCat linked above is different than WorldCat Local (the search box on our homepage), which also displays call numbers, locations and links for items we own. WorldCat Local also includes citations for articles and other materials from a number of sources that are not in the original WorldCat, but the search engine is not as robust. [Differences between WorldCat and WorldCat Local.]
- Even if you don't end up using ILL to get any of these materials, you can take note of the authors and search their names in article indexes. They are liable to have written articles (or other books) in the area.
- Try our guides to some of these union catalogs help you get started:
- 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: January 10, 2013