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Library and Information Science: The Basics

This research guide will provide you with selected library science resources available in Buley Library

Getting More Help

Define Your Topic

Getting started can sometimes feel like the most difficult part of the research process. Help define your topic by asking questions:

  • What is my assignment?
    • Is it an opinion paper?
    • Is it an overview of a topic?
    • Is it a report or analysis?
  • Is my topic limited in any way by:
    • A specific time period?
    • Geographic location?
    • A segment of the population?
  • Would background information be helpful?
    • Encyclopedias help provide perspective on a topic or concept. Subject encyclopedias help define a topic, provide a timeline of events, identify people associated with the topic, and supply good keywords to use later when searching for books or articles.
  • What words or terms best describe my topic? Are there synonyms for these words?       

Determine the Type of Information Needed

1. What types of resources are required?

  • Books
  • Articles on a topic
  • Articles from a specific journal

2. If articles are needed, how do I know if a publication is a scholarly journal or a popular magazine?

  • Journal articles:
    • Are written by experts in the field
    • Are peer-reviewed
    • Include reports of original research, or in-depth analysis of issues related to the field
    • Use terminology and language specific to that field of study
    • Are written for other researchers in the field
    • Include bibliographies and extensive documentation
  • Magazine articles:
    • Are written by journalists and free-lance writers
    • Are not peer-reviewed
    • Cover current events, hot topics, popular culture
    • Use non-technical language
    • Are written for a broad and popular audience
    • Rarely cite any sources

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