The Research Process:
steps to effective, efficient research
If any of these steps are unfamiliar, there's information in the various IRIS 4-2 sections that can help (Start, Explore, and Find). Visit the related module (shown in parentheses) to learn more:
2. Get an overview of your topic and collect background information by looking up your keywords in encyclopedias and scanning the articles. Subject-specific encyclopedias are particularly useful for this step. You may also want to perform a quick web search -- but keep it quick! You don't want to get bogged down with too many details yet. (see Subject Encyclopedias)
After your initial topic scan, your topic should be more refined and you should have a useful list of keywords. Time to start collecting information. You may choose any or all of the following steps, depending on your project, in any order:
- Use a book catalog to locate books. Read footnotes and bibliographies to locate additional resources. (see Books and e-Books, Library Catalogs, )
- Use periodical indexes to locate articles in newspapers, magazines, or journals - or all three. (see Magazines/Journals, Periodical Indexes) Ask a librarian for assistance in choosing an appropriate index. Once you find a relevant article, read footnotes and bibliographies for additional sources.
- Find relevant, credible web resources. Evaluate every source before you use it. (see World Wide Web, Web Search Tools)
- Is there an association or a non-profit agency that might be able to help you? Look in the Yellow Pages or a directory of organizations. Search the Web and limit your search to organizations (.org). Depending on your topic, you could perform this step at any point in the process.
- Is there an expert on your topic you might interview? Did you find someone referenced in an article? From an association?