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Research Process

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

Explore Scholarly Articles

Remember that your goal at this point is to find a research topic, so you will want to cast a very wide net and conduct a broad search within your topic area. To explore academic or scholarly articles related to your topic, start by using the Roadrunner Search box located on the Library’s home page. Roadrunner Search is a tool that searches most of the Library’s databases.

Begin by conducting a broad search on keywords or a phrase related to your interest area, such as “financial crisis” or “personality disorders” or “distance learning”. You will quickly find that results returned will be very large! But this is a good starting point to begin noticing and exploring features of your area of interest:

  • Start noticing the subject terms associated with your search results
  • Scan abstracts by clicking Page Options and select Detailed to see abstracts and citations in one view.
  • Start using limiters on the left-side menu – date, scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, subject and others to narrow your topic focus and scan the available research.

To learn more about how to navigate Roadrunner Search, with screen shots showing how to use Refine Results options and a detailed record view, see Roadrunner FAQs. You may also learn more about search strategies by viewing the Library’s Searching 101 Workshop Video.

As your focus begins taking shape, you can learn more about how to use limiters, subject terms and other database searching techniques, under Preparing to Search. Library databases also offer options to create a personal account and save searches or alerts related to your topic area. See Database Alerts and RSS Feeds and the Library's FAQ Saving searches in EBSCOhost.

When you begin to notice research articles in your topic area, skim through the full-text of the articles for their Discussion, Conclusion or Future Research sections. Many scholarly articles will include a section near the end where the authors discuss avenues for future research. This section will highlight new research questions that the study raised, tangential research questions, or questions that have been around for a long time but have not yet been answered. You’ll want to carefully read the authors’ comments about the topics. You may discover research questions which guide you toward a topic area you would like to research. As you are combing through the literature, you need to make sure that your potential topic is still relevant to the discipline.

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.

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