Every time you begin with a research project, it is a good idea to start with the basics. Your first destination should be journals and encyclopedias – they often have names like Oxford Illustrated History of ABC, or Harvard Encyclopedia of XYZ – look for the ones specific to your field and don’t hesitate to ask your professor or lecturer about them. Look through the footnotes or the bibliography for further sources. You can use Wikipedia as well, as long as you follow the footnotes to academic sources.
Looking for these books can sometimes be difficult and there is no library in the world that is complete, so make some effort and learn about the interlibrary loan department at your library. More often than not, they are able to supply you with any title you need – as long as an affiliate library has it.
While you are asking about the interlibrary loan department, it would be wise to ask your librarian about your research subject – librarians are excellent sources of information in most cases. If you are fortunate enough to go to a bigger school, there is a chance you have trained reference librarians for specific subjects at your school library.
Explore your school’s library intranet. Good schools often have lists of databases that you can get free access to. Here is a list of databases Hoppers has dug up just for you.
(Please note, if your school intranet has free access to any of these databases, you will need to access them through your university portal, and possibly from campus only.)
- ISI Web of Knowledge
- EBSCO host
- Engineering Village
- Dow Jones Factiva
- Gale Cengage Learning
- IEEE Xplore Digital Library
- LexisNexis Academic
- SciFinder Web
When accessing the above e-databases, be sure to note the difference between lists or directories of different journals, and E-journals, which are actual journals and periodicals. Also, get a free account with WorldCat – it is a free and public catalog of over a billion items sourced from more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.
You may feel frustrated at times when the search results yield no desirable results. Learn the tools to help you search. Use the pound sign (#) and punctuation marks (such as ‘?’) together with Boolean operators such as ‘and’, ‘+’, ‘-‘, and ‘or’. Visit this site for a tutorial on using Boolean operators.
Getting expert help while conducting research is not a bad idea either. Use services like papermoz.com to make sure your research is comprehensive.