Category Archives: Research Tips

On The Research Trail

Trail, Mountain, Hiking, Mountain Road, Rural Road

When working on a research project, save yourself a lot of time and aggravation with one simple step.  Keep track of your research trail.  What is a research trail?  Think back to the story of Hansel and Gretel, and those pebbles they dropped on the ground to find the way back home.

Instead of pebbles, make notes, either on your computer or in a notebook, of the sources you have searched.  And also keep track of the search terms you have used.  This trail or log will make sure you do not repeat the same searches, and also, if you meet with a librarian or your professor for a research consultation, you can show exactly what you have completed, and the sources you have already located.  The trail notes can also help build your bibliography and footnotes later, when you are drafting your paper.

So, save yourself time, and be sure to make a trail of your research!



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Footnotes are your friends

So you have located (with the help of a reference librarian) a few scholarly articles or books related to your research topic.  Want a quick way to multiply the sources without hitting the databases or online catalog?  Take a look at the footnotes!

Footnotes provide a wealth of citations to sources on your topic, primarily from other reliable academic sources.  You can now take these citations, and locate them using the online catalog (for books and ebooks) or subscriptions databases and Google Scholar (for articles).

The footnotes can also lead you to authors or experts in your field of inquiry.  Search the online catalog, subscription databases and Google Scholar to find additional materials these scholars have written on your topic.

So, don’t just file those research materials away.  Mine the footnotes for a short cut to more sources!

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Expert Research Assistance for Free

Would you like some free research assistance?  Someone who can get you off to a good start on a project, saving you valuable time?  Come talk to a reference librarian at Whittemore Library!

Use the expertise of the FSU reference librarians to power your research project.  Each reference staff member has a master’s degree in library science.  So, each librarian has actually completed graduate studies on how best to conduct research – locate the best books, select the relevant databases, track down reports, and more!  Some reference librarians also have additional master’s degrees in various subjects, including art history and law.  Wow.

Plus, every day, the reference librarians work with the FSU online and print resources.  Think of your reference staff as GPS for your research project.  Get to the best sources faster.  Reference is like the Waze or Google Maps of Whittemore.

How much does it cost an FSU student to sit down and talk to one of these expert researchers?  Absolutely nothing.  That’s right – nada, zip, rien.

What are you waiting for?  Would you rather go it alone, and try to figure out the vast resources waiting for you?  Or are you going to contact the reference staff?  Thought so – you are smart!

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Starting Research? Just Google it. (Really!)

When starting a research project, even librarians take a look at Google or even Wikipedia.  You may be thinking that your professor or friendly librarians always advise you NEVER to rely on these somewhat dubious sources.  You would never, ever cite this type of source in your paper, but they can be useful tools.  But how?, you may wonder.  When you are new to a topic, often the case when you start a research project, you may be unfamiliar with the area of academic inquiry.  Use these “quick and dirty” tools to familiarize yourself with the basic background on a topic.   What are the important concepts?  Key dates? Major academic players?  Get yourself up to speed.

Say, for example, you heard recently that early exposure to peanuts may impact peanut allergies in children.  This might be a great topic for your food science paper.  But you are fuzzy on the details – was it a study?  Recent or older?  Was it just babies or older kids as well?  If you visit Google, and search for, “peanut allergies research exposure”, you can read through some quick information on the topic from sources like recent news stories, National Institutes of Health panel announcement, medical websites, and more.  From there, you can determine if this is a topic which you would like to pursue, and collect basic information on any studies, time frame when the studies were published, names of researchers in the field, etc.  Now, with those basics in your grasp, you can move on to reliable scholarly resources.  Your research is off to a good start.

Remember to keep Internet searching in your toolbox when starting a research paper.  While these web-based searches should not be your main research tactic, nor should they appear in your bibliography, they can help you educate yourself on a topic.

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