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Research skills {What you need to get through with your sanity}

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Presentation on theme: "Research skills {What you need to get through with your sanity}"— Presentation transcript:

1 Research skills {What you need to get through with your sanity}
Megan Lowe, Coordinator of Public Services

2 The Most Important Thing…
In order to conduct productive research, you need a workable topic. NEVER start research without a manageable topic. A manageable topic will be neither too broad nor too narrow. If your topic is too broad, you’ll find too much information*. If your topic is too narrow, you may not find enough information. * I know what you’re thinking – “too much information? I need all I can GET!” Trust me, the first time you get 20,000+ hits (either in the Library’s resources or on the Internet), you’ll start sweating and realizing that the world is VERY FULL of information, and not all of it is relevant to your needs. You don’t want everything; you want what will serve your research needs.

3 Picking a Topic Pick something that YOU find interesting – that way you’re not bored in the research process For writing papers at the college level, I’d recommend avoiding topics that have been “done to death” or are emotionally-charged – gun control, abortion, and gay marriage/adoption are examples of topics to avoid Remember: most papers you write in college are going to ask you to defend/argue from one side of an issue

4 Developing a Manageable Topic
Let’s say you’re interested in doing a research paper or report on marijuana – but that’s too broad You need to make it less broad. You can do that by asking yourself questions about the topic: What aspects of this topic interest me? What common misconceptions do people have about this topic? What DON’T I understand about this topic that I’d like to understand? What might others find confusing or interesting about this topic that I’d like to highlight?

5 Developing a Manageable Topic
“Marijuana” as a topic has a lot of potential – you could approach it from a legal or law enforcement perspective (the legalization of marijuana); a cultural perspective (marijuana subculture); or a pharmaceutical perspective (marijuana as medicine) There is A LOT of research out there on marijuana – by narrowing it to one of these perspectives, you’re reducing the amount of stuff you have to go through This makes the research process that much easier to navigate and less overwhelming (which is what librarians do – make research less scary)

6 Developing a Manageable Topic
Another way to develop a manageable topic – either instead of asking questions or in conjunction with asking questions – is to use visual brainstorming techniques such as concept maps or webs These types of techniques can help you organize your thoughts. You could also use a simpler visualization technique to arrange your thoughts. Just remember: brainstorming is the beginning and can help you refine or clarify your topic This web is from the website:

7 pharmaceutical purposes
Used to effectively treat a variety of issues Being plant-derived, it has fewer negative side effects Is still illegal in much of the US, making cultivation difficult Can be taken in a variety of ways Marijuana should be legalized for pharmaceutical purposes

8 Got a Topic; What’s Next?
Now you have a topic – but the next step is NOT diving right into the process of locating resources You need to develop keywords which are the tools you use to search the Library’s resources (and the Internet, too) Creating a list of keywords can help you further refine your topic – it can serve as a brainstorming technique, too! The better your keywords, the better your results!

9 Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes.
Developing Keywords Medical marijuana should be legalized for the treatment of seizures, pain relief, and nausea as a result of chemotherapy. Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes. Marijuana Legalized Medicinal Purposes Cannabis Legalization Medicine Medical Medical marijuana Law Treatment Seizures Migraines/headaches Glaucoma Pain relief Chemotherapy Case study (case studies) Doctors

10 Using Keywords Keywords can be used in
The ULM Library Catalog The ULM Library Databases Even on the Internet! You combine keywords together using certain words called operators. They are: AND (this is the most common operator) OR NOT

11 You have to use the word AND, not + or &.
Using Keywords So a keyword search for our topic could look like any of these search strings: marijuana AND legalization AND medicine marijuana AND medicinal AND legal marijuana AND treatment AND law AND seizures Order and capitalization are not important, but spelling and number are, so be careful. You have to use the word AND, not + or &.

12 Determining Resource Needs
This part depends on a variety of things: Has your professor set a specific number of resources to use? Has your professor said you can only use certain kinds of resources? What kind of topic do you have? Is it more scientific or more pop culture? The answers to these questions will guide you toward the kinds of resources you need to consult.

13 Determining Resource Needs
There are different kinds of resources: Books Individual chapters/essays in books Articles Newspaper articles Magazine articles Journal articles Government documents Websites and web documents

14 Evaluating Resources Resources generally fall into two categories:
Scholarly Written by experts Focuses on a particular field, topic, or discipline Intended for others in that field or career “Proper” language, technical vocabulary No ads RESEARCH ORIENTED Popular Written by journalists Usually covers broad topics, fields, issues, or disciplines Usually appeals to a wide audience Everyday language, slang, even profanity LOTS of ads NOT RESEARCH ORIENTED JOURNALS are scholarly. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES are popular.

15 Evaluating Resources: Internet Edition
Authority--who created the web page? Are they experts? What are their credentials? Do they provide contact information? Accuracy--where did they get their information? Are the facts verifiable through another source? Do they list a bibliography of citations from where they obtained their information? Coverage--how much of the topic does the resource cover? Does it attempt to cover all or most of the aspects, or is it vague? Currency--when was the site last updated? Are the facts on the site up-to- date? Is the information current? Objectivity--does the site have biases? Is the information presented in such a way to allow the viewer to make his/her own judgment, or does the site try to persuade you to adopt its viewpoint? What is the purpose of the site? More about evaluating Internet resources (including this list) can be found at:

16 Getting It Together (Tips + Reminders)
Everybody thinks research is hard; it really isn’t. It just takes time. Make sure you keep a list of keywords – you’ll find as you go along that some words work better than others. If you keep a list, you can make a note of what’s working and what’s not. One step at a time: don’t try to find everything all at once. Pick one type of resource or one aspect of your research (like marijuana and migraines) and pursue that first.

17 Getting It Together Don’t assume you’ll be able to find everything right away – sometimes it takes a little digging to find the right resources. It’s better to have the right resource than the first item on a results list Digital folders – in your , on your jump/flash drive, or your desk top – can keep resources organized and easily accessible; some of our databases will allow you to create individual accounts in which you can save searches and documents! If you find a website that’s useful, copy and paste the URL into a Word document and annotate it – that way you know what it is and can get back to it more easily!

18 Getting It Together And most importantly, remember: if you need help… …JUST ASK A LIBRARIAN FOR HELP! That’s what we’re here for – we want to help YOU! All you have to do is ASK.

19 Q & A TIME!

20 Thanks for your attendance!
Remember, if you need research help, all you have to do is ask the librarians. You can… Visit the Reference Desk, Library 1st floor us at Call us at (318)

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