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Finding Academic Sources

The Research Dance

Research can be messy, and there are a lot of things to keep track of when researching. However, you can employ some methodical tactics to help navigate the journey. While there is no right way to research, it's highly recommended to keep yourself organized.

One option is to keep a research notebook-- this can be a physical notebook, a Word doc, a GoogleDoc, or a notes app on a mobile device. Consider how you've kept yourself organized with other projects. Experiment until you find something that works for you.

Here are some things you'll want to consider keeping track of:

  • key terms and synonyms
  • databases you searched
  • terms you used
  • combination of terms
  • helpful subject headings
  • Boolean operators used
  • limiters you included
  • potential sources 

And once you've found that perfect source, make sure to save it! Not just the author, not just the link! Save as much of the resources as you can. Is it a PDF? Create a file folder and save a copy. Is is a physical book? Scan or make a copy of the pages you found most helpful. Is it a link? Make sure to get the PERMALINK -- this is not the link the address bar. Find the icon that looks like this: 

 By keeping track of your research, it will make the dance of research so much easier. Research requires patience. You're learning new techniques and content. It takes time. Research requires perseverance. You are looking for a needle (your perfect source) in the haystack of information. (And there is a lot of information out there!) Give yourself time to explore. Research requires trust. You need to trust yourself. Know your strengths (and weaknesses) as a students. Know when to ask for help. Librarians are standing by to answer your questions (chat, email, phone calls, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom).