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Research Process: Exploring Books and Scholarly Articles

an introduction to the research process at a very basic level

Exploring Books

Books can provide much needed background information and history on a topic. Books offer a broad viewpoint that is different from articles. They give broad subject overview and refer to specific theories or research areas that you may need to pursue further.

Books are often not peer reviewed. Therefore, read unedited books with caution. In addition, read books published by university presses, as these items are reviewed by editorial boards and reviewers.

Locate thousands of books by searching the Library catalog. You may also find thousands of e-books in the Library. Go to the Find a Title page to explore the list of e-books on many different subjects.

Exploring Scholarly Articles

Your goal at this point is to find a research topic, so you will need to conduct a broad search within your topic area.

To explore scholarly articles related to your topic, start by exploring the one search tool located on the Library’s home page. One search is a tool that searches all Library’s databases.

Start by conducting a broad search on keywords or terms related to your area. You will quickly get a huge set of results. This is a good starting point to begin spotting and discovering features of your area of interest:

  • Start detecting the subject terms associated with your search results
  • Scan abstracts
  • Use limiters on the left-side menu to narrow down your search terms and scan the available information.

To learn more about how to navigate One search tool, see Electronic Resources Access Tutorial.

As your focus begins taking shape, you can learn more about how to use limiters, subject terms and other database searching techniques, under Searching strategies.

When you start to find research articles in your topic area, skim through the body of the articles for their Discussion, Conclusion or Future Research sections. Many scholarly articles include a section close to the end where the authors discuss possibilities for future research. This section will highlight new research questions that the study raised, indirect research questions, or questions that have been around for a long time but have not yet been answered.

You must carefully read the authors’ observations about the topics. You may discover research questions which guide you toward a new topic area.

As you are examining the literature, you need to make sure that your potential topic is still relevant to the discipline.