Getting Started on a Research Project
Before you start searching the library for resources, you'll want to think about:
Turning a Topic into a Question:
Before starting on a research project, you'll need to have a topic in mind. However, a topic isn't enough to make for an effective search or an effective research project. You'll want to develop your topic into a research question.
Each research project, paper, and presentation has its own set of requirements that your professor has specifically designed, so always check your assignment for specific details. But in general, a research question:
If I'm doing a research paper on the flu shot, I would want to think through my topic and apply specific aspects to turn my topic into a research question such as:
My research question could be something like: In the past decade, how has the flu shot impacted the number of flu cases among elderly patients in the United States?
Pull Main Concepts from your Research Question
Library databases use keyword searching where you connect main concepts together into a search query to tell the database what you're hoping to find. Because of this, we'll want to pull the main concepts from your research question to start with some initial keywords.
For example, let's say your research question is:
In the past decade, how has the flu shot impacted the number of flu cases among elderly patients in the United States.
The main concepts would be:
Brainstorm Additional Keywords
Once you've identified the key concepts, it's helpful to brainstorm additional keywords. You may need to do some background research on your research question before you can identify additional keywords.There are three main ways to brainstorm keywords based on key concepts:
We started off with four keywords, and now we have sixteen!
Connecting Keywords with Search Operators
Once you've brainstormed keywords for your research question, think about what operators you may use. Operators are a way of combining keywords to get the best results from your search.
AND Use AND when you want to find articles or other information that contains both/all keywords
flu shot AND flu cases AND elderly patients
OR Use OR when you want to find articles or other information that contains at least one of the keywords
influenza vaccination OR flu shot
Quotation Marks Put quotes around phrases when you want that phrase to be found in that exact order
What are your assignment requirements?
Refer back to your assignment for any requirements of the types of sources you are supposed to find (ex. 3 peer-reviewed articles published in the last 10 years OR 1 website, 1 book, and 2 articles, etc.)
What are you trying to find?
In order to answer your research question for your project, you may need to break your research question down into a few smaller questions. For example, you'll want to know the flu shot rate among elderly populations, you'll also want to find something that talks about the efficacy rate of the flu shot preventing flu cases, you'll also want to know the number of confirmed flu cases among elderly populations. You might have to find multiple sources to piece together enough evidence to attempt to answer your research question.
Where might that information be found?
Think about the goal of what you're hoping to find and ask yourself:
If you're looking for statistics, you'll want to use a statistic database or search for websites by organizations who report national statistics. If you're looking for scientific studies comparing the rates of flu shots and confirmed flu cases, you'll want to search for peer-reviewed scholarly articles in the library catalog.
This interactive tutorial will walk you through the basic features of the Library Catalog.
The databases below are a good place to start your research for nearly any topic. The databases below are interdisciplinary and contain mainly scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles.
If you're looking for current events or content that is written for a more general audience, try searching some of our newspaper and magazine databases below:
The following databases can provide a solid background of information on your topic. The databases listed include e-books which might contain a chapter or a whole book on your topic, or reference collections which are encyclopedias or other reference materials that contain generally accepted knowledge in the field.
With the power of one search box, the main search on the library homepage will include results from Forsyth Library's Collections (all of the physical resources inside the library) and multiple research databases (the majority of the electronic resources to which the library provides access). There are tabs at the top to Search Everything, or limit your search to Articles, Digital Archives, or Books and More.
To help you build stronger search queries, click on Advanced Search to connect multiple keywords into your search query and have the option to filter your results by material type and date if you have any of those requirements for your resources. (Click on the image to see the search query and results)
Once you've done an initial search, use the Filter Results sidebar to apply various filters to tell the database exactly what you're looking for.
You can apply filters, allowing you to tell the database to show only the results that meet your criteria, such as:
Make sure you explore the filters available (hint: you may need to click "Show More" to see all of the filter types and options that can apply to your results.
|When you search in Research Databases, you are searching in a smaller, more concentrated pool of resources that are organized around a particular subject area or resource type.|
From the A-Z List, use the subject dropdown to select your major or the subject for your class for recommended databases.
If you're looking for a particular resource type (ex. newspapers or encyclopedias), use the Database Type dropdown menu to narrow the list of databases down to databases that only contain those particular types of resources.
To get to a database, click directly on the blue, hyperlinked title listed on the page.
There are a few types of resources that you may need to search outside of the library to find. For example, if you're looking for a website resource, you'll need to use Google or a similar search engine to find your resource and evaluate it's credibility. You can apply many of the search strategies we've learned when you're searching Google. Use the tips below to help bring back more relevant results:
"quotations around a phrase"
Ex: "influenza vaccination"
Just like when you're searching in library databases, by putting quotations around a phrase or multiple words, you're telling the search engine that you want to see those words in that order.
This brings back fewer, but more relevant results.
Ex: site:mayoclinic.org vaccination
Use a site search to use Google's search engine to search for content on a particular website.
For example, by searching the fhsu.edu URL in addition to a keyword, I make sure that my results are related to FHSU instead of any other university.
.org or .edu or .gov
Ex. influenza vaccination statistics .gov
|By specifying the end of the URL Google responds with results that more closely match that type of website. For example, maybe I was wanting to find statistics relating to influenza vaccinations, I might find that data on a government website like the Center for Disease Control (CDC).|
Ex. influenza vaccination statistics filetype:pdf
You can tell Google what type of file you're looking for in order to search for uploaded documents relating to your keyword search. The following file types might be helpful when: