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Senior Project: 2. Locate

Guide to the research process required to complete the WSA Senior Project.

The Research Process

research process

The second stage of the research process is to locate the information you need.The important thing to remember is to not be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, just collect what you think might be useful to you.  If you look in the right places and search efficiently you can find relevant resources quickly and easily.

See this page for suggestions on:

How to select appropriate information
How to search effectively in databases and on the Internet
How to use Boolean Operators
Why you need a range of sources
How to archive and annotate webpages and PDF files using NoodleTools
Choosing an online tool for bookmarking and organizing 

 

See other pages in this section to learn how to locate:
          Books
          Articles
          Search engines, repositories, and directories
          Websites by subject

 

Select appropriate information

 

It is important to appreciate when and how information becomes available, this can help you to understand more about the material you find in your research.  

Where does what you found fit in to the 'information cycle' for the event or topic you are investigating? 

(This video from Kimbel Library is a quick, if irreverent, explanation of this pattern of facts, analysis, and introspection surrounding events.)

When an historic, news-worthy event occurs, such as a terrorist bombing, earthquake, or weather-related disaster, information begins to be created almost immediately and will continue to be created for years into the future.  

If a major event occurs today, almost immediately there will be eyewitness accounts of the event, people who are there will take photographs, post their experiences on Facebook or Twitter, write a blog post or diary entry or send a text to a friend.  These are examples of primary sources of information.

(This video from Hartness Library gives definitions and examples of primary and secondary sources, and discusses the value of each when researching.) 

Over time more information will become available in different formats; newspapers are published the following day, magazines a week or month later, journal articles after a few months, books follow much later and finally reports may take a number of years to complete.   

             ;

         Kimbel Library, perf. The Information Cycle. Joshua Vossler, Script writer, 
              Narrator, and Hand; John Watts, Script writer and Hand; Tim Hodge,
              Editor and Hand. Vimeo.com. Coastal Carolina University, 2 Aug.
              2010. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <https://vimeo.com/13830031>.

      Hartness Library. Primary vs. Secondary Sources. YouTube.com.
            Vermont Technical  College, 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.
            https://youtu.be/ g0plq2E9ZjQ>. 

Quick Tips for Effective Searching

By using effective search techniques you can find useful, relevant information without having to waste lots of time trawling through all those unwanted search results!

Use these tips to help you search a variety of information sources including databases, library catalogs, and the Internet.

  • If you have a choice, choose the Advanced Search option, it will allow you to limit your search in a number of ways.

  • When planning your search, remember to use the keywords you identified in the 'Define' section.

  • Don't forget to use Boolean Operators (find more information on this page) to create your search strings.

  • The truncation symbol (*) can be used to find variations of a keyword that begin with the same letters.  For example econom* would find economy, economic, economics, economical etc.

  • Keep track of the searches you use so you don't go round in circles.  Note down particularly useful search strings.

  • Use quotation marks to group a number of words together (ie "Top Gear" would search for all results with the phrase 'Top Gear' but would ignore those where 'top' and 'gear' only appear seperately).

  • Verify important information by looking for the same information in a number of reliable sources.

Boolean Operators

Use the Boolean Operators
AND  OR  NOT
 to improve your searches, by narrowing your search if you have too many results, widening your search if you have too few.

 

Boolean Searching is a very useful skill to learn and really easy once you get the hang of it!

Virginia Commonwealth University. Boolean Operators Tutorial. YouTube. N.p., 10 June 2010. Web. 14 Aug. 2015. <https://youtu.be/ffw70AU9pc0>. 

 

Use a Range of Sources

 It's important to be aware of the range of information sources that are available to you and the attributes, advantages and disadvantages of each.

 

There are many information sources, from the obvious ones like books, magazines, newspapers and Internet sites to those you may not immediately think of such as maps, annual reports, conference proceedings and theses.  All sources have strengths and weaknesses and you should consider these when deciding on the most appropriate sources to use in your research.

Archive and Annotate with NoodleTools

Online sources can change, become temporarily unavailable, or even disappear.  The Archive and Annotate feature allows you to save webpages and PDF files to your NoodleTools projects.  You can also highlight and add notes to your archived pages to remind yourself why the source is important to your research.

With Archive and Annotate, you can easily access your source material at any time by clicking the link next to a citation in your bibliography.  Your instructor can also view your archived source material in case you have questions or need additional help.

These tutorials show you how to:

​​Download a PDF of the NoodleTools 'Archive & Annotate' tutorial here:  

Bookmarking & Organizing Tools

         

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