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Research Guides at University of Kentucky Libraries

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Research Quick Tips

Guide Information
Last Updated: Jul 28, 2014
Guide URL: http://libguides.uky.edu/infolit101
Description: Introduction to college-level research
Tags: 21st century skills, critical thinking skills, information literacy, lifelong learning, research skills
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Guide Index
Start Here
1. Develop Your Topic
2. Search Strategies
3. Find Credible Sources
4. Popular and Scholarly Sources
5. Evaluating Sources

Start Here

What Is Research?

Research is inquiry. Research is a scholarly conversation. Research is exploration. And research is a process. Most often you complete one step before moving onto the next. However, there may be times when you will need to return to a previous step or complete multiple steps simultaneously.

Step 1. Develop Your Topic   Developing a good research question can sometimes be the most difficult part of the research process. Watch Developing a Topic.

Step 2. Search Strategies  What is a search term? Brainstorm for ideas. Watch Generating Search Terms.

Step 3. Find Credible Sources  Learn why library research databases are your best choice for college level research. Watch What Is a Library Database?

Step 4
. Popular and Scholarly Sources  Learn the difference between Popular and Scholarly Articles. Watch Popular and Scholarly Sources.

Step 5. Evaluating Sources  How can you tell if a source is reliable and appropriate for your assignment? Watch Evaluating Internet Sources.

Ask-a-Librarian

Not finding what you want? Don't get frustrated. Ask a librarian! Ask-a-Librarian

What Is Information Literacy?

How do you find the information you need for a research assignment, for work, or for life? 

Information literacy may be referred to as inquiry, critical thinking skills, research skills, or lifelong learning. 
Learning where to look and how to find the information you need is a key component of information literacy.

Find more Course Guides created for individual courses.

1. Develop Your Topic

Developing Research Questions

Once you have selected an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions. To begin:

  • Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
  • Using the information you wrote down, develop questions you'd like to answer when doing your research.
    • Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should?
    • Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no. 
Developing a Good Research Question

Refer to this guide as you develop your initial research topic. Expect to refine your topic as you learn more about it.

Developing a Topic

Video used with permission from Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa.

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2. Search Strategies

Identifying Keywords

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be found easily by scanning:

  • Your initial research questions,
  • Encyclopedia and other articles used when conducting background research,
  • Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles.

If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
  • Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture.
  • Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.
Generating Search Terms

Video used with permission from Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa.

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3. Find Credible Sources

Find Background Info Here!

Research topics are often formed from a vague or general idea.
Finding background information on your topic is the next step in refining your research topic.

Search InfoKat Here

Listed below are only a few of the thousands of subjects you can explore in InfoKat.

College sports
Group identity
Human trafficking
Immigrants - United States - Social conditions
Natural foods
Stem cells - research

You can search all the materials in the UK Library System using InfoKat. Type the name of a book, author, or a subject below and it will show you what we own.

Go to Advanced Search

What Is a Library Database?

... and how can it help you with your research?
Video used with permission from Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa.

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4. Popular and Scholarly Sources

Look for Scholarly Articles Here

Sample search terms for databases

Sierra Leone and child soldiers
globalization and clothing industry
universities and basketball arenas
crowdsourcing and business

Academic Search Complete
Limit Your Results
 
 
 
How to Get Text

http://libraries.uky.edu/page.php?lweb_id=477

When you see the Get Text button, click on it to see a menu page which will show you where you can find the full-text of the article.

Frequently Asked Questions about Get Text

Popular and Scholarly Sources

Video used with permission from Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa.

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5. Evaluating Sources

Evaluate Your Sources

Knowing how to find relevant, reliable, and accurate, information can help you make informed decisions about things like graduate school, a new car purchase, financial aid options and more.
Use the criteria below to evaluate the information you find on websites and other sources. 

Authority
Author shows evidence of a high level of expertise
Website has a strong affiliation with a credible organization

Accuracy
Information on this site is well documented
Additional research supports the information on this site.
The site displays correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Relevance
Website is strongly related to my topic.
Website offers comprehensive coverage of the topic.

Currency
The information on this site is current.
The website has been updated recently.

Objectivity
The purpose, intent and audience of the site is clearly stated.
On this site, facts are presented as facts and opinions are presented as opinions.

Functionality
The site is well organized and easy to navigate.
The links, images, and other media on this site are present and working.

Adapted from A Practical Guide to Information Literacy Assessment for Academic Librarians by  Carolyn J. Radcliff, et al. Westport, CT. Libraries Unlimited, 2007.

Evaluating Internet Sources

Video used with permission from Cooperative Library Instruction Project under Creative Commons license cc-by-nc-sa.

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