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Logan Home > How Do I? > Basic Research Strategy

Basic Research Strategy Guide

Step 1.
Select a researchable topic considering the following: 
  • Scope of the assignment.
  • Time limits.
  • Resources available, including any topical guides created by the Library staff.
Step 2. 
Do a background check.
  • Determine the issues, themes, and questions to be investigated.
  • Overview sources such as the online catalog, subject encyclopedias, yearbooks or review publications. These materials can provide background information, facts, and bibliographies.
  • Decide whether there is enough (or too much) material to pursue the topic.
Step 3. 
Refine your questions using the background information and terminology learned.
Step 4. 
Gather bibliographic references. Keep careful track of this process, including which indexes and databases used, and complete citations for every item.
  • Scholarly books, literary works, biographies: Check the Logan Library Online Catalog.  The holdings of other libraries can also be checked through WorldCat, a worldwide library catalog.  
  • Articles in periodicals/newspapers: Use an online database (index) or a print index.
    • Recent articles: Check one or several of the online databases; Academic Search Premier (from EBSCOhost, for example) or try a subject-oriented resource such as ScienceDirect (science).
    • Older articles: A few print indexes are available in the Library near the periodicals. These include Humanities Index, Psychological Abstracts, and Essay and General Literature Index. 
Step 5. 
Assess the relevance of the bibliographic references found. Consider:
  • Point of view.
  • Authority.
  • Level of scholarship.
  • Quantity of information it is likely to contain.
  • Timeliness.
Step 6. 
Gather the best available material. Read, evaluate, think.
Step 7. 
Repeat steps as necessary. Leads to new facets of the topic may appear in the information already gathered.
Step 8.
Organize and present material.