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DIY Research Guide

Quick lessons on how to best use the library's resources.

How to Research a Topic

Exploring the library's A to Z database list (and understanding how to use its filters) is an excellent way to identify the right resource for your topic.

Step One -- Click on "Databases A to Z"

Step Two -- Familiarize yourself with all of the options in the first two dropdown menus.

Step Three -- Here is the result of selecting the best filters for the research topic "Does the burden of student loan debt fall heavier on certain groups of people?"  Notice that when you filter on both "Education" and "Fact, Statistics, & Data" you get a small manageable lists of resources that you can explore.

 

While searching a typical library database, a keyword search can easily be converted into a genuine topical search by clicking on interesting subject tracings, aka, descriptors.

For example, you have decided that you are generally interested in Social Security so you do that search in a database.  You will notice below that you retrieved 14,781 records from the database.

But when you pay attention to the Subject Terms listed you see that you are actually more specifically interested in the idea of a basic income.

Step One -- Click on the "Basic Income" descriptor in the record.

 

Step Two -- The database launches a new search on that descriptor term and gives you a list of only 366 items all of which are definitely and unambiguously about the topic of a basic income.  Being aware of this one small feature present in most databases is a huge time-saver.

We make it very easy for you to meet with us to discuss your research.

Step One -- From the library's home page click on "Make an Appointment".

Step Two -- Use the filters on the left to identify appropriate individuals.  Pick one.  Click on that person's "Schedule Appointment" button.  Fill out the form.  Mark your calendar.  Meet them for the appointment.