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Research Assistance

Books

Here is a list of helpful tips when using scholarly books for research. 

1.  Use the index and table of contents.  Reading the entire book is not necessary in order to use it for research.  Instead, look at the index or table of contents to see if your idea/concept/topic is mentioned.  If it is, read the chapter that contains that idea/concept/topic in order to get the context.  

2. Look at the author.  Do a quick Google search to see what information on the author you can find.  (This can be tricky if the person has a fairly common name - make sure you find the right person). 

3.  Look for books with a list of references.  Research based books will have a list of references that you can look at to find more sources on a particular idea/concept/topic. 

4. Take notes.  While you can't write in a book, it's always a good idea to have a notebook or a Word document on your computer in which to take notes for research.  You won't always be able to remember which source contained what information.  So taking notes while you read and evaluate a source is helpful.  

Articles

Below are some tips for using articles during the research process. 

1. Read the abstract.  Before diving into the full article, or printing it off from the database, read the abstract that is given for that article.  The abstract is a summary of the article and gives the main ideas of the article.  Any research that is done will be indicated in the abstract as well as where the research is taking place.  Reading the abstract can save researchers time, and prints, during the research process. 

2. Read the article.  Once you've decided if a particular article might be of use, download or print it off and read the entire article.  Reading the entire article will ensure that you get all the information that's in the article.  

3. Take notes.  Underline sections/pieces of information that will be useful for your paper/project.  

4.  Look at the reference list.  If the article is a research-based article, then it will have a reference list.  Use this list to find more sources on an idea/concept/topic.  

Websites

Below are some helpful hints on using a website as a source:

1. Look at the author.  Do a quick search on the author to see what else the author has written.  

2. Skim over the article.  When gathering your sources, skim over the webpage to determine if it could work as a source.  

3.  Read carefully.  Once you've collected several sources, read over the webpage carefully to see if it supports your research question.  

4. Take notes.  While you read the webpage, take notes to highlight important areas; also, write down questions that come up while you read the article.  

5. Look at the references.  Take a look at the references to see what the author uses to back up their research.  You can also use the reference list to find other sources related to your topic.