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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Preparing to Search

Once you have selected a topic and reviewed general resources, you must decide what exactly interests you most about your topic.  For example, you may have chosen globalization as a topic, but when you run a search for globalization in the Library databases, you get over 12,000 results! In a situation like this you will need to narrow your search. What about globalization interests you? Try adding some keywords to globalization to come up with a smaller, more manageable, set of search results. You may also find that your research topic is much too narrow, or focused. Trying to look for articles about the effects of globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India, will more than likely return zero results. In this situation you need to broaden your topic by taking away some keywords or being less specific about your research topic.

globalization = too broad
globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India = too narrow
globalization on outsourced employees = manageable topic

As mentioned above, it’s important to choose a topic that is not too narrow or too broad. It is also helpful to select a topic where you can effectively explore relationships. For example, "Is there a relationship between globalization and the human rights of workers from local host countries?" Use your research topic or question to identify the main ideas, which will become your keywords.

keywords = globalization, human rights, outsourced employees

As you continue searching, refine your search by adding or combining different keywords that further explore your topic. You may find you need to modify your question. Carefully read and evaluate scholarly research articles to determine their suitability and validity. Use information from selected articles to form a response to your question and guide future searches.

Understanding how to narrow or broaden your topic is a an important part of the research process. Learn to recognize when these steps need to occur and what to do to carry out these steps. Once you have developed a research topic, you will want to begin thinking about the type of information you need and the best approach to finding it.

The sub-pages in this section will describe techniques for searching in the Library's databases.

Searching 101 Workshop

This workshop covers the basics of searching: Boolean logic, keywords vs. subjects, how to use a database thesaurus, and truncation. Various databases will be used throughout the workshop to demonstrate different searching techniques.

Searching 102 Workshop

This library workshop builds upon Searching 101 and covers field searching, nesting, proximity searching, and finding similar resources. Various databases will be used throughout the workshop to demonstrate different searching techniques.