Similar to writing, successful research involves preparation. Research is an iterative process that requires planning and critical thinking. On this worksheet, you will use your topic to generate search terms, combine them using the appropriate search building techniques, and search Lakeland library’s catalogs and databases for sources of information on your topic.
To help you learn to use the search tools, view the short video tutorials on the accompanying tabs. Each tutorial corresponds to one of the resources covered on the worksheet.
Use the resources below to find and begin developing a topic for further research.
The CQ Researcher & The CQ Weekly
Congressional Quarterly, Inc. publishes summary reports and in-depth coverage of many current issues. The CQ Researcher and CQ Weekly can be found in the current periodical area. The CQ Researcher is also available online as a database.
Subject encyclopedias provide an overview of a topic and background information. They can also help you to identify key concepts in your subject area. To browse a list of encyclopedias, do a keyword search in the Lakeland catalog on "encyclopedia." To find encyclopedias on a specific subject, add a word or phrase related to your topic to that search. EX: health AND encyclopedia.
There are also many electronic encyclopedias in the Lakeland catalog.
The following book series provide multiple viewpoints on current issues.
Types of Periodicals
Periodicals are print sources that are published weekly, monthly or quarterly, such as magazines, newspapers and journals. Instructors may require a variety of sources or limit sources to scholarly journals.
Academic publications contain articles written by professionals in the field. The articles may be original research or an extension of previous research, illustrated with graphs, tables and they have a list of references at the end. Articles submitted to a academic journal are peer reviewed or juried, meaning other experts read and suggest revisions to the author before the final version is accepted for publication.
Popular magazines are not in-depth enough to be scholarly. The magazine may have an area of interest - Parenting is devoted to raising children and Time is a news magazine, but the articles are intended as overviews. Authors may or may not be named, there may be illustrations or charts, but there won't be a bibliography at the end.
Newspapers can be published daily, weekly or monthly. Editorials focus on commentary or opinion while the news articles are supposed to be factual information. Newspapers may have a viewpoint that echoes their publisher or the audience they serve which you may discover by "reading between the lines."
Periodical Comparison Chart
Types of Journals
|Examples||Plain Dealer, Wall Street Journal||Newsweek, Psychology Today, Billboard||The New Republic, The Animal's Agenda||Crystal Engineering, New England Journal of Medicine||Journal of the American Library Association, Publisher's Weekly|
|General readership - news, opinions, text of speeches, local interest||Overviews, non-technical language, advertisments||Journal has specific agenda written to appeal to like-minded readers||Professional readership - research, analysis, technical vocabulary||Journal of association or trade organization meant for people in that field|
|Authorship||By-line for important staff writers, often no author named, no credentials given||By-line for important staff writers, often no author named, no credentials given||Featured writers have by-line, staff writers often not named, no credentials given||All contributing authors named with their degrees and sponsoring institution||Varies - some name authors and their credentials, others not|
|Articles often do not refer to sources||No bibliography, articles may refer to other sources||No bibliography, articles may refer to other sources||Extensive bibliography, footnotes in text, article often begins with literature review||Varies from journal to journal|
|Standards set by newspaper editors and owners||Staff editors, no peer or expert review||Staff editors, no peer or expert review||Articles "peer reviewed" for accuracy by other experts||Staff editors, no peer or expert review|
|Length||Brief overview articles or follow-up columns||Short overview articles meant as starting point for readers||Short articles supporting journal's agenda||Comprehensive papers outlining original research or new synthesis of previous research||Shorter overview articles applying to specific topics in trade|
|Special Features||Photographs, some charts, maps etc.||Advertisements, photographs, illustrations, maps etc.||Advertisements, photographs, illustrations, maps etc.||Tables, graphs, charts, maps, illustrations to support text||Advertisements, photographs, illustrations|
|Structure||No consistent format for articles||No specific structure unless written by featured writer||No specific structure unless written by featured writer||Structured, beginning with abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography||No specific structure unless written by featured writer|
Step-by-Step Instructions for Reading a Primary Research Article
This article was originally published here.
by Jennifer Raff, Assistant Professor of Physical Anthropology,
University of Kansas, joint Ph.D. in genetics and anthropology
1. Begin by reading the introduction, not the abstract.
The abstract is that dense first paragraph at the very beginning of a paper. In fact, that’s often the only part of a paper that many non-scientists read when they’re trying to build a scientific argument. (This is a terrible practice. Don’t do it.) I always read the abstract last, because it contains a succinct summary of the entire paper, and I’m concerned about inadvertently becoming biased by the authors’ interpretation of the results.
2. Identify the big question.
Not “What is this paper about?” but “What problem is this entire field trying to solve?” This helps you focus on why this research is being done. Look closely for evidence of agenda-motivated research.
3. Summarize the background in five sentences or less.
What work has been done before in this field to answer the big question? What are the limitations of that work? What, according to the authors, needs to be done next? You need to be able to succinctly explain why this research has been done in order to understand it.
4. Identify the specific question(s).
What exactly are the authors trying to answer with their research? There may be multiple questions, or just one. Write them down. If it’s the kind of research that tests one or more null hypotheses, identify it/them.
5. Identify the approach.
What are the authors going to do to answer the specific question(s)?
6. Read the methods section.
Draw a diagram for each experiment, showing exactly what the authors did. Include as much detail as you need to fully understand the work.
7. Read the results section.
Write one or more paragraphs to summarize the results for each experiment, each figure, and each table. Don’t yet try to decide what the results mean; just write down what they are. You’ll often find that results are summarized in the figures and tables. Pay careful attention to them! You may also need to go to supplementary online information files to find some of the results. Also pay attention to:
8. Determine whether the results answer the specific question(s).
What do you think they mean? Don’t move on until you have thought about this. It’s OK to change your mind in light of the authors’ interpretation — in fact, you probably will if you’re still a beginner at this kind of analysis — but it’s a really good habit to start forming your own interpretations before you read those of others.
9. Read the conclusion/discussion/interpretation section.
What do the authors think the results mean? Do you agree with them? Can you come up with any alternative way of interpreting them? Do the authors identify any weaknesses in their own study? Do you see any that the authors missed? (Don’t assume they’re infallible!) What do they propose to do as a next step? Do you agree with that?
10. Go back to the beginning and read the abstract.
Does it match what the authors said in the paper? Does it fit with your interpretation of the paper?
11. Find out what other researchers say about the paper.
Who are the (acknowledged or self-proclaimed) experts in this particular field? Do they have criticisms of the study that you haven’t thought of, or do they generally support it? Don’t neglect to do this! But do it last, so you are better prepared to think critically about what other people say.
Use the Lakeland Library Catalog to find books in your library's collection. Enter your search terms (keywords, etc.) in the search box on this page and click search. When you get to the results list page in the Lakeland Library Catalog, you will notice your search terms in search box there. In order to access the results, you need to click Search again next to the search box on the Lakeland Library Catalog page..
Use the OhioLINK Catalog to find and request books in college and university libraries throughout Ohio. Enter your search terms (keywords, etc.) in the search box on this page and click search. When you get to the results list page in the OhioLINK Catalog, you will notice your search terms in search box there. In order to access the results, you need to click Search again next to the search box on the OhioLINK Catalog page..
Databases for Literary Research
Websites for Literary Research
Keyword Search Tips:
Always use quotations marks around your keyword phrases. For example: “fairy tale”
Create complex, highly specific searches with the Boolean Operator AND. For example: “fairy tale*” and critic*
The asterisk * allows you to find various endings for your search term. For example, critic* finds critic, critics, critical, critically, criticism, etc.
You can also do a Keyword search using the name of an author (first name then last name: “Charles Perrault”) or the title of a work (“Little Red Riding Hood”).
Using Subject Headings:
When you retrieve a catalog record for a book that seems interesting, look at the Subject Headings for that book. The Subject Headings are located in the bibliographic record. You can also find them in database records. Click on a Subject link (in blue) or do a Subject search on that topic to find more information. The subject for fairy tales is Fairy Tales.
To find information about an author, do a Subject search by typing in the last name first. For example: dahl, roald
Similarly, to find works by a specific author, do an Author search by typing in the author's last name first.
For example: wilde, oscar
To find critical works about fairy tales, do a Subject search by simply typing in the phrase fairy tales. When doing a Subject search, quotation marks are not necessary to find the exact phrase.
Chat with a librarian and get help with research. This service is available all hours the library is open, click the icon below to get started!
One-on-One Personal Research Assistance
Lakeland librarians offer personal help with research for assignments, projects and papers. Schedule an appointment for a 20, 30 or 40 minute session. We ask that you provide 24 hours notice for the librarian to prepare for your session.
Click here to complete a Request Form. You will be prompted to log into myLakeland.
We can provide an appointment through video conferencing using WebEx.