Answered By: Tiger Swan
Last Updated: Mar 04, 2016     Views: 25

Thank you for contacting us today with your question. It’s a very good one and the answer can depend upon a few things.  Many of the databases we have are designed for specific subject areas so depending upon your topic you may benefit greatly by using some of those. If you’re not familiar with using a database I would recommend you begin by using the database, Academic Search Premier. You may find the link for this by going to the library homepage, and clicking on the link at the top for Article Databases by Title A-Z.

Once on the Databases A-Z page, you will see the link for Academic Search Premier.

I generally begin by doing an Advanced Search. This option link is located underneath the search box. Based upon your thesis statement, you will select the most thematic terms to use within the search boxes. Your keyword choices will make a huge difference in what you find/don't find. You do not want to type out your entire thesis or long phrases in the search boxes. Keep each search box you use focused upon one aspect of your topic. If you haven’t defined your topic beyond its simplest form you will first need to do that. Using something like homelessness is too broad for writing any research paper.

You have begun to formulate your topic by the sounds of it but you’ll need to determine the terms you would that would be used in order to represent your focus. Perhaps for the first search box in your Advanced Search you can enter the word, homelessness. You will notice next to each search box there is a drop-down menu that you may use, but it is not required. In the case of your first search term, homelessness, I would select ‘Subject Terms’ from the drop down menu next to that search box.

In the second search box, you could try entering terms that relate to your focus. Perhaps trying the term, programs.  With the search term you enter into the second box I would not select anything from the drop-down box next to it and just leave it as it is (Select a Field (optional)).

Once you’ve performed a search you will notice some options for narrowing your results further. In the left-hand margin of your search results under the section for ‘Limit To’ you will find the option for selecting Full Text, and also narrowing your results to ‘Scholarly Journals’ if your professor wishes for you to focus on more academic articles. However, if you do not select ‘Scholarly Journals’ you will be able to see all of the ‘Source Types’ also in the left-hand margin.

As you look through your results that appear from your first search you may click on the titles of the articles that sound interesting.  Clicking on the title will take you into the record for the article. Each record contains a lot of information about the article. The ‘abstract’ that is found in the record is most helpful. No matter how long an article may be, you should be able to read the brief abstract in order to determine if the article is going in the direction of your research. If the abstract does not sound relevant you simply go back to your list of results and continue looking.

If the abstract does sound relevant to your research topic the first thing you should do is email it to yourself. When you are in an article record, you will notice a ‘tool box’ on the right-hand margin. Your link to email is located there. Because you selected the limiter for Full Text when you were looking at initial list of results, all of the articles that appear for you now should have the full text of the article, either as a PDF and/or in html format within the article record. Your email will thus contain the full text of the article. Before your send the email you should also select the drop down option for ‘Citation Format’ and choose the citation format your professor requires for your paper (ie. MLA, APA, etc). If you select this it will also add the citation format into the email that is sent.

There are many other tips and strategies for performing quality research. Please let us know what type of further assistance we can provide.  Thanks again for contacting us and we look forward to hearing from you again.

Tiger Swan

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