Library Research Checklist
Consider the following steps before you begin your research:
Understand the instructor's assignment.
- Has a topic already been assigned or have you selected a topic?
- What do you already know about the subject?
- How much information do you need? Is your assignment a five minute speech or a ten page paper?
- What kind of information do you need? Scholarly research or general interest?
Develop the topic and find background information.
Whether or not you have chosen a subject, the following resources will provide you with preliminary information and may yield additional or related concepts to help you define your topic.
- General encyclopedias:
- Subject-specific encyclopedias:
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, etc. (Most located in the Reference Collection by subject area.) Seek assistance at the Information Desk.
- Books on your topic can be found through the
- Search the
Catalog by Keyword or by Subject.
- If your search is unsuccessful, try different words or try searching by words in title. When books are identified as potential sources of information, identify and note their subject headings to find more sources.
- Record the call numbers and retrieve the books from their
Focus the topic and find current information.
Journal, newspaper and magazine articles generally provide the most up-to-date and focused information on a specific topic.
- Many indexes and abstracts, both in electronic and print format, are available to help you locate articles on a particular subject. Please ask at the Information Desk for assistance.
- When using indexes, remember the following tips:
Be flexible: Different indexes use different words to describe subjects. Experiment with synonyms for your subject. For example, material about the population over age 65 may be listed under aged, aging, senior citizen, older American, elderly, geriatrics, and gerontology.
Be precise: Make sure to record the complete bibliographic citation of an article, including the author, title, periodical name, volume number, page, and date.
Be organized: Keep a record of which databases were searched, where specific citations were found, and which words were used in the searches.
- Once you have a list of citations, check
Catalog by journal title for titles owned by the Library. Remember to check what years the Library owns. Also,
determine the availability and location of the journal.
Adapted from the University of Rhode Island,