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INFO 4700/Carruth/Spring2023: How to do library research


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

Here are the slides that were presented in the library session in class.  Please reach out to your librarian for help or more information on any research-related topic.

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. Do a background search online for your topic to see what you can find out: look for the who, what, where, when and why. This gives you information on what is currently known about your topic and any new developments. 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 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 searches (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"
      2. "climate change"
    4. Use the filters, usually located on the left side of the page or at the top of the page, to limit results (date, for example.
    5. Use Google Scholar! It is a great resource. One recommendation I have is to use Google Scholar through the library website or connect GS to your CU email so you can get easy access to articles CU Boulder pays for.

Engineering Librarian

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Elizabeth Novosel