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Library Research E-Textbook - Student Version: Basic Research Strategies

Basic Research: Introduction & Goals

Introduction

This module will lead you through some in-depth research strategies, but once you master the basics, you'll have the critical tools needed for academic research.

Most people equate the library with books, and sometimes with magazines and journals. In this module we'll focus on these resources. Although searching the web is perhaps easier and definitely more familiar, you can't rely on it alone for your academic research. Most of the books and many of the articles you will need for university projects will be in the Southworth Library Learning Commons collection, which includes thousands of periodicals, over 50,000 print books, over 40,000 print books, over 150,000 e-books, microforms, DVDs, and CDs, and streaming videos.  That sounds like a lot doesn't it?  To help find resources (especially articles) associated with your topic, the library has many different databases. The databases might focus on a subject area (psychology) or a type of material (newspapers), or they might cover many subjects and many formats.

In this module, we'll look at how to put these databases to work for you in order to locate books and articles for your research topic.

By the end of this module, you will be able to search for and locate books and articles from Southworth Library Learning Commons related to your research topic.

Finding Books

Finding Books

Books are a great place to start your research. They can help you to define your topic. For instance, if you're interested in the Iraq War, you can find a book on it and then skim the table of contents, the introduction, and the index for ideas and for some more focused information. They can also help you gather background information.

In the library world, a database that searches for books, videos, and periodicals in a specific collection is called a catalog. Our catalog is located within SLEUTH, and is available to users whether they are on or off campus. To access SLEUTH, go to the Library Learning Commons home page, locate and click on the link for SLEUTH, and you will be directed to the catalog's Basic Search screen.  It is here you can enter your keywords. Most books in our library catalog are e-books.  These books are the electronic versions of the exact same book(s) available in print, but the entire content is available to you electronically.  Electronic books are wonderful resources for remote and distance students, as well as those who cannot make it to the physical library building for other reasons!

Remember when you're using books in your research that you don't have to read the whole book. You can skim various sections and just use the introduction or a single chapter if necessary. 

The following video covers the basics of finding books. You'll learn more later in the Advanced Book Searching module. Remember to ask for help if you get stuck!  

Finding Articles in Academic Search Complete

This part of the lesson focuses on searching for articles that have been published in magazines, journals or newspapers. We'll cover this type of search in an article database.

An article database provides information about where and when the article was published, and is searchable by keywords, subjects, and authors. Since articles tend to be much more specific in their coverage of a topic, your search can also be more specific. We'll cover ideas for narrowing your search so that you can find the most relevant articles for your topic. As with most searching, this takes some trial and error. Academic Search Complete is a great database to use when you start your research.  The database covers a wide range of subjects; therefore, Academic Serach Complete will almost always have something for you.

Watch the following video to get a better sense of how you can use Academic Search Complete through Southworth Library's website to help you find articles for your research papers.

Direct link: http://youtu.be/8nSsIAohVZQ

Using InterLibrary Loan

As students at SUNY Canton, you have access to all the content to which the Library subscribes. And that is a LOT! Some article databases provide the full-text of the article as well as the citation, but finding the full-text of an article often takes an additional step or two.

Sometimes the Southworth Library does not have access to the full-text of the article you need for your research. Don't fear!  Just because you see the following page...

...doesn't mean you will never find the full-text of the article. Just use InterlibraryLoan.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service that obtains articles and books not owned by Southworth Library.  Just click on the kangaroo, and you will be redirected to a page with the information for the article you want.  Simply click "Submit" and in two or three days, the article should be emailed to you as an attachment.

Subject Guide