This LibGuide covers skills, strategies, and materials employed in basic academic research: the sorts of assignments often given to lower division (freshman and sophomore) students in the first two years of college. Other Guides should be consulted for upper division major field courses.
This page defines and explains research and also offers some general advice applicable to nearly all research assignments.
For additional information on research, consult the following LibGuides:
Graduate Research http://libguides.jsu.edu/c.php?g=245428
Research Foundations Tutorial (recommended) http://libguides.jsu.edu/researchfoundations/tutorial
Research is the systematic investigation of a topic, thereby adding to the knowledge in the field or academic discipline by making a new discovery, filling a gap in what is already known, or providing a new interpretation to what is already known. Oxforddictionaries.com. defines research as "The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions."
Research is a process, not an event.
Research is systematic, not random.
Research is dynamic, not static.
The three principal academic disciplines of social sciences, sciences, and humanities each have their own standard templates for research, which most upper-division university students begin to encounter with the major field courses begun their junior year.
1) Being able to do research is a marketable skill which can give you a competitive advantage when seeking a job.
2) Being able to do research helps you make wise life decisions in choosing health care, purchasing a home or automobile, even deciding which movie to see or where to dine afterward.
3) You've been doing research your whole life. Every time you've used critical thinking to help you reach a decision, you've performed steps in the research process. The difference between this and academic research is one of degree, not of kind.
4) You want to pass the course.
Although there are many details that must be given attention in writing a research paper, there are three major criteria which must be met. A well-written paper is
10. Don’t wait till the last moment to start your research!
Research is long and semesters are short: if we don’t have something you need, we can probably get it for you elsewhere, if given enough time.
9. Research is a word game.
Try various terms and techniques to improve the accuracy of your searches: use AND and OR to combine groups of search terms, truncation (wild card searching), phrase searching, search limiters, etc.
8. Google doesn’t have everything.
Hard to imagine, but Google only provides access to a fraction of 1% of what’s “out there” on the web. Learn to use other tools to find information that’s “invisible” to Google.
7. Use Advanced Search features.
Many databases include “Advanced Searching.” By using it, you can quickly and easily improve the accuracy of your searches—and have fewer but higher quality search results.
6. A lot of things aren’t online at all.
Many books, articles, documents, videos, etc. that aren’t online. Contact us and we’ll help you find them.
5. Use Wikipedia—and other encyclopedias—carefully.
Encyclopedias can be great places to get beginning background info, and for references to major books, articles, etc. on a topic. But they’re usually not something you can use as one of your sources for a paper or other project.
4. Evaluate! Evaluate! Evaluate!
Don’t believe everything you read. Or see. Or hear. It’s up to you to determine if the information you are using is reliable or not. Librarians can assist you with your evaluation of information also.
3. Research is not a straight line.
It's a process, a spiral, an evolution. One piece of new info can take you back to places you've already been. You may need to change course, even reverse direction from time to time.
2. Find more sources than you think you’ll need.
Some sources that you’ll find just won’t work for your research needs. But, if you collect “extra” sources at the beginning, you probably won’t have to backtrack and re-do your searches later.
1. Ask a Librarian!
Don’t get frustrated. Ask for help in person, by phone, via email, or online chat(Blackboard IM JSU Studentts only), emailEmail. Make an appointment. Just Ask!
[Special thanks to HCL 2nd floor librarian Charlcie Pettway-Vann for permission to use this box.]