Research Tips and Tricks
The library can help you research just about any topic. Whether you need homework help, are researching a new car, or finding information on a new prescription drug, we have tools that can help you.
1. Can't find what you need?
If you're looking for a title and can't find it, or you need an answer quickly, here's what you can do.
- Ask a librarian
- Use interlibrary loan
- Get a copy from a searchable resource
2. How do I Ask a Librarian?
- You can go to the Information Desk or the Checkout Desk at the library and ask for help.
- You can call the Information Desk at (901) 457-2601 to ask for help.
3. How do I use interlibrary loan?
- Borrow a title from another Wolf River Consortium Library. From the library catalog, you can click on Place Request in the item record. Click here for more information on how to place a hold.
- Borrow a title that no Wolf River Consortium library has. Click here for more information on how to use Interlibrary Loan.
4. How do I get a print out or copy from an online research database?
Many of the online research databases the Collierville Burch Library offers have full-text articles.
5. How do I write a report?
There are many web sites that offer instructions on how to write a report.
Here are some of our favorites:
Basic Steps in the Research Process
Learn the basic steps in the research process from choosing a topic to turning your paper in from the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.
CRLS Research Guide
Internet Public Library A+ Research & Writing Tips
Find links and advice for high school and college students.
Internet Public Library.
Open Directory Book Review Help
Learn how to write a great book report with these links.
Open Directory Project Reference
What steps do I take to write a research paper?
STEP 1. IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP YOUR TOPIC
State your topic as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about women and their influence in government, you might pose the question, "What affect do women politicians have in local government?" Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question.
STEP 2. FIND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Look up your keywords in the indexes to subject encyclopedias. Read articles in these encyclopedias to set the context for your research. Note any relevant items in the bibliographies at the end of the encyclopedia articles. Additional background information may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks, and course reserve readings.
STEP 3. USE THE ONLINE CATALOG TO FIND MATERIALS
The Lucius E. and Elsie C. Burch, Jr. Library's Online Catalog includes books, audiobooks, DVDs, and other materials that are part of the library's collection.
STEP 4. USE INDEXES TO FIND JOURNAL ARTICLES
Use indexes, abstracts, and other research databases to find citations to articles. The indexes and abstracts may be in print or online or both. Choose the indexes and format best suited to your particular topic; ask at the Information Desk if you need help figuring out which index and format will be best.
STEP 5. FIND INTERNET RESOURCES
Use search engines and subject directories to locate materials on the Internet.
STEP 6. EVALUATE WHAT YOU HAVE FOUND
Evaluate the authority and quality of your resources based on the author's credentials, the publisher and year of publication, edition, etc. Look at the content as well, focusing on the intended audience, primary versus secondary sources, objective reasoning, and writing style. If you have found too many or too few sources, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic.
STEP 7. USE A STANDARD FORMAT TO CITE WHAT YOU FIND FOR YOUR BIBLIOGRAPHY
Use style manuals for APA, Chicago, or MLA to format the citations in your bibliography. They will also contain information on how to cite properly an electronic or Internet resource.
6. How do I cite my sources?
There are various methods of citation. Here are some commonly used methods:
American Psychological Association's Guide to Citing Electronic Resources
APA Style Citations
Chicago Manual of Style: Examples of Chicago-style Citations
Chicago Style Citations
Modern Language Association's Guide to Citing Electronic Resources
MLA Style Citations
7. Do you have any research tips for me?
You may need to request a checked out item, or an item waiting to be shelved, or request a copy through interlibrary loan.
Keep a record of all references you find as you go along.
Take advantage of database e-mail and downloading features. Know and use the citation style standard in your discipline.
Consider resources in addition to books and journal articles.
Government documents, statistics, theses, dissertations, conference papers, and reports may contain useful information.
Identify relevant indexes and databases in your topic area.
Use subject menus on the "Search our Electronic Databases" page. Start with the largest, most general indexes, then search more specialized databases. A good place to start is the Universal Database Search (TEL) which searches multiple databases and web resources.
Identify keywords, synonyms and related terms.
Develop a research strategy to extend and track your search. Consider keeping a research log (dated) to keep track of terms searched in each index and new terms discovered for further searching.
Refine your search.
Take advantage of advanced search strategies, Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), date limits, subject headings, thesauri and other controlled vocabulary to broaden, narrow and fine-tune your search.
Follow the bibliography trail.
Scholarly works always contain references to related publications that may be available in the library, through interlibrary loan, or through a Web source such as Google Scholar.
Evaluate what you find.
Prefer scholarly, peer-reviewed (refereed) materials and authoritative Web-based resources. Read abstracts to determine article scope and content. Check for timeliness and author's credentials. Look for works by recognized experts in the field.
Ask a librarian!
Get in touch with the library or come to the reference desk (in person, if possible) for help in locating resources for your research.