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INFO7000: Resources for Graduate Students/Information Science/Fiesler/Fall2022: How to do library research


Welcome! This guide is intended to help provide library resources for graduate students in Information Science.

Slides from a presentation to INFO 7000 cover similar content. Please reach out to your librarian for help or more information.

Basic Steps of Library Research

Here are some basic steps to follow for doing research. For more assistance, please see the Library's guide to Research Strategies or contact your librarian.

  1. Identify your topic. Search online for your topic to see what is "out there." This gives you information on what is currently known about your topic and who is researching it. Popular articles and websites are fine for this part of the process.
  2. Develop search terms or "keywords." Make a list of words to describe your topic.Include synonyms and alternate terms.
    1. For example, if you are interested in how concussions affect athletes, you might start listing terms for "concussion," which could include "traumatic brain injury" or just "brain injury" or "brain swelling" or "cerebral edema."
  3. Do an Initial search. One good place to start is on OneSearch, the search bar on the library main website. Try combinations of your search terms to see what comes up. Use the filters to limit the huge number of results.
  4. Select a database to search. Some databases are for general (such as Academic Search Premier) and others are more specific to a subject area.  If you go to the library's research guides, you can see a list of the best databases to search for different subject areas. Sometimes it is best to start with a more general database as the more specific ones will only search a limited number of journals and thus limit your results.
  5. Databases are not Google.
    1. You need search terms (keywords) to search for articles on a given topic. Except in Google Scholar, natural language (sentences) will not work.
    2. Use separate rows (search boxes) for your different terms when possible. If this is not possible, put AND between terms.
    3. Use quotation marks around terms you want to keep together in a specific order.
      1. "concussion" AND "long-term effects"
    4. Use the filters, usually located on the left side of the page or at the top of the page, to limit results.
    5. You can use an asterisk (*) to search many variables of a word, so for example child* would bring up child, children, childhood and all similar words. So this can be good and bad...if it expands your search too much, search the terms you are interested in individually. Beware words like society..."soc*" could bring up too many different words (society, social, socialite, socialism, socket, etc.)
    6. Use Google Scholar! It is a great resource. Google scholar does have some issues (your search history influences the search algorithm, for example, and you can't utilize as many filters or control the search as well as in other databases.) One recommendation I have is to use Google Scholar through the library website or connect GS to your CU email so you can get wasy access to articles CU Boulder pays for.

Engineering Librarian

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Elizabeth Novosel