Know Your Assignment Requirements
Research Assignment and Instructor Expectations
Completed by due date (the Research Project Calculator can help you plan to finish on time)
Length of finished product
Sources selected and used
Organization and flow of ideas
- Select/define/refine/focus your idea
- 5 Ws (who, what, why, when, where) and how
- Determine if you will be able to cover all the important points of your topic in the space you have to fill
Library Catalog Basic Search
Starting from the Library Catalog Basic Search screen you can search by Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject by selecting the radio buttons and typing search words in the text box.
The default Limits setting will search the entire collection. You may also limit your search to smaller sub-collections: Ejournals (electronic periodicals--not specific articles), Ebooks, NCOD (National Center on Deafness), TCC (Teacher Curriculum Center), Periodicals/Serials (not specific articles), Videos, Reference Room, Special Collections, or Sound Recordings by selecting a collection from the drop-down menu.
Searching for a specific Item
Select an Author or Title search if you know the author (last name, first name) or at least the first few words of the title.
Searching for Items by Topic
There are two ways to search the online catalog for resources on a topic: by Keyword or by Subject.
- A Basic Keyword search will simultaneously look for words in titles of materials, in subject headings, and in notes fields.
- A Subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
- Another way to find the Library of Congress Subject Heading for your topic is to search the catalog by Keyword, display the record for a relevant title, and select one or more of the Subjects listed for that record.
Library Catalog Advanced Search
For an Advanced search, select the Advanced Catalog Search link on the homepage. The Advanced search allows you to search by keyword in up to four separate fields, and optionally limit your search by language, material type, location, collection, publisher, or publication date.
To start your search:
- Select the field you want to search (Author, Title, Subject, Note, or "any field") from the first drop-down menu.
- Type keyword(s) in the adjacent text box. Two or more words entered together in one search box will retrieve records containing that exact phrase, unless there is no exact match. If there is no exact match for the phrase entered, the system will retrieve records contain all search terms entered, wherever they are in the record.
- (OPTIONAL) For a combined search, enter additional keywords into separate search boxes and choose the appropriate Boolean operators (and, or, and not) from the pull-down menu.
Find a Book on the Shelves
- Check the Status field of the book's record in the catalog.
- IN LIBRARY - book is available for checkout.
- DUE + date - book has already been checked out.
- The Location field shows the general location of the book.
- Most books are on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
- For other locations, check the location codes table.
- The Call # field gives the book's call number, which serves as the book's address in the library. Each row of books on the 2nd and 3rd floors will have a sign at the end indicating which call numbers can be found on that row.
- Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
- Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
- Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
- When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.
Keyword Searching Examples
Variety of terms: If you are looking for items on the "movies", use additional keywords such as "film", "films", "cinema", or "motion pictures".
An example of retrieving results unrelated to your topic (false drops): using the keyword "cricket" will retrieve items about the sport as well as the insect.
An example of using keywords to find titles when you are unsure of the exact title:
Both CAGED and BIRD are in 6 titles.
There are 6 entries with CAGED & BIRD.
You searched for the WORDS: bird caged
Found 6 items:
- Caged bird medicine : selected topics / Charles V. Steiner (1981)
- I know why the caged bird sings (1969)
- Many voices. 8A-6B (sound recording) : for Adventures for re (1986)
- Maya Angelou / Miles Shapiro (1994)
- Poco / by Garry and Vesta Smith; illustrated by Fred Crump (1975)
- Voices in Black & White : writings on race in America from H (1993)
Narrow or Broaden Your Search
Use AND between terms to narrow your search
example: television and violence and children
Use OR and/or truncate (*, ?) words to broaden your search
example: children or youth or adolescents
example: child* (will find child, children, etc.) Note: check online help for the correct truncation symbol
Finding Articles in Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers
Pick a database recommended for your subject from Databases by Subject and then search using keywords.
To locate the full text of an article:
- If full-text is available in the database, click on the link to full text (HTML or PDF).
- If full-text isn't available in the database, click the button to see if we have access to the article in another database or in print in the library
- If no Find Text button is available or you didn't find the article through our databases, search for the magazine or journal title using the Journals tab in the library catalog.
- If the full text isn't available through the Library, you can request an Interlibrary Loan for the article(s) that you need. However, you must allow about two weeks for this!
Types of Periodicals
Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about journals/magazines, we can usually divide these publications into three broad categories: scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade publications.
Check Ulrich's to see if a journal is peer-reviewed/referreed
|Scholarly Journals||Trade Publications||Popular Magazines||Newpapers|
|Current Psychology Research and Reviews||Information Today||Psychology Today||New York Times|
|Geographical Perspectives||Aviation Week and Space Technology||Discover||USA Today|
Popular Magazines and Newspapers
- Authors are magazine staff members or free lance writers.
- Authors often mention sources, but rarely formally cite them in bibliographies.
- Individual issues contain numerous advertisements.
- There is no peer-review process.
- Articles are meant to inform and entertain.
- Illustrations may be numerous and colorful.
- Language is geared to the general adult audience (no specialized knowledge of jargon needed).
Scholarly Journals (Peer-reviewed/Referreed)
- Authors are authorities in their fields.
- Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
- Individual issues have little or no advertising.
- Articles must go through a peer-review or refereed process.
- Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
- Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
- Articles use jargon of the discipline.