Getting Started: Brainstorming
Before you start your research, brainstorm some broader, narrower and/or related keywords to help with your research. These keywords can come from your own knowledge of your topic or from searching background information.
Let's say I am in the beginning stages of my research on queer Chicana students in Los Angeles:
|Keyword 1||Keyword 2||Keyword 3||Keyword 4|
|Latina/o||gay||college student||San Fernando Valley|
|Mexican-American||lesbian||university student||Los Angeles|
You might also take some time to think about what kinds of information you need and the resources you should be using to get that information. Here are some examples:
Critical analysis: scholarly/peer-reviewed articles, books
Historical resources: newspaper articles from the time period, census data, letters, oral histories
Definitions and Background Information: subject encyclopedias and dictionaries, biographies
InterLibrary Loan (ILL)
Can't find what you're looking for? Ask the Library to get the book you need via Interlibrary Loan.
What is InterLibrary Loan?
Interlibrary Loan (or ILL) is a service provided to obtain materials which are needed for research but are not available in the Oviatt Library.
How do I make ILL requests?
Requests are made through the automated Interlibrary Loan System. See the Interlibrary Loan page for more info.
Here are other resources you may find useful while formatting your paper:
Citation Formatting Tools
Citation managers are software that keep track of your sources and automatically format your citations in a variety of styles.
Visit the OneSearch FAQ to learn all about how to use the library's new online OneSearch tool to find articles, books and more. Or, watch the How to Use OneSearch video:
Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.
It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:
women or females
|Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.|
women and media
|And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.|
image not weight
|Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.|
Creating an Annotated Bibliography
What is an annotated bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.
Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles. The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.
Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:
- Main focus or purpose of the work
- Usefulness or relevance to your research topic
- Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
- Background and credibility of the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by you
Annotations versus abstracts
Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article, to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.