The research process has three basic steps:
1.) Understanding what you need.
This means understanding what types of information items you need: books, book chapters, newspaper articles, journal articles, scholarly v. popular items, etc.
2.) Finding what you need.
This requires that you understand what tools to use to find different types of information and it requires that you understand the context for each information item. For example, finding books is easier in CONSORT or OhioLINK, while articles can be found in databases or Summon, but not CONSORT, and primary resources are best found in databases or digital collections, which may be available on the open web. A resource may be primary or secondary depending on its context.
3.) Organizing and keeping track of what you find.
Keeping track of what you find and where you find it can save a lot of frustration in the resource process. Noting what search terms are working and what aren't, or noting new terms or authors you find are also helpful. Using a citation management software can also help you keep things organized.
It's important to remember that the research process is a process and it isn't necessarily linear. You will find that you have to back track and repeat steps. Some things won't work. You'll discover unexpected successes too. It's all part of the fun and frustration of the research process.
1.) Break your topic into several keywords and create search strings (you will need to construct multiple searches).
I wish to explore how war is discussed from a Christian viewpoint
A particular war? Vietnam, Gulf War, World War I?
What denomination of Christianity? Baptist, Protestant?
What viewpoint? Ethically? Morally? Politically?
Morality AND War AND Christianity
War AND Politics AND Baptist AND Religion
Violence AND Ethics AND Baptist
Violence AND Morality AND Christianity
2.) Use the reference works tab to find an encyclopedia or dictionary entry on your topic.
This will list citations for books and journal articles.
3.) Search the library catalogs with your keywords.
* pay attention to subject headings
4.) Search the databases with your keywords.
* pay attention to subjects
5.) Read, read, read! Ask more questions. Do more searches. Start writing out your ideas.
Try these handouts on Identifying Keywords and Basic Search Tips from Indiana University Libraries.
Think about how you will collect and organize the citations you discover during the research process.
Citation management is a crucial step in the research process.
I highly suggest using a citation management program - a powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources and then share the results of your research.
Use Summon to search nearly everything to which Denison has access. Summon is a great place to start with research on interdisciplinary topics.
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