LIBS 100: Introduction to Information Literacy and ResearchBryant & Stratton College, Amherst CampusCharlene D. Shotwell BA, MLSThe “Pile of Stuff” Method of Research and WritingWhen doing research for a project, be sure to collect quality and pertinent information about yoursubject. You should seek to use a variety of different sources and different formats whencollecting your information. For example, you will use some books, some periodical articles,some web page sources, etc. If you have done your research properly, by the time you sit down at yourcomputer to begin composing your paper you should have a big “pile of stuff” sitting next toyou! If you do not have this “pile of stuff,” then you are not ready to write your researchpaper!The “pile of stuff” should include: • library books that you have collected about your topic and have checked out of the library • photocopies of sections from reference books (library books that do not circulate) • printed copies of articles from online databases • photocopies of articles that you found in hard copy format or PDFs of articles that you have found in electronic form from online databases • printed copies of information that you have found from web pages • written or recorded notes from any other sources that you have collected, such as personal interviews, multimedia materials, etc.If you are using library books: Consider using small Post It™ note stickers to mark off pages including pertinentinformation and/or sections that you may wish to quote, paraphrase or summarize. You may alsouse the Post It™ notes to write notes or reminders to yourself about the information you aremarking off. This is especially useful with borrowed library books where you cannot write on thepages! Also, with nonfiction books remember to scan the table of contents and the index to sothat you may zero in on the sections of the book that are most pertinent to your topic. Contrary topopular belief, you do not need to actually read an entire book to cite the book in your paper! Inmost cases, it is okay to just read the sections of the book that pertain most to your topic and thenquote, paraphrase and summarize from those sections. Just be sure to read enough material sothat you do not take the information out of context.If you are using photocopies of sections from reference books: Consider also photocopying the cover of the book or the publication information that isfound within the first few pages of the book. You will need this information when you formatyour in text citations and your References page citations
LIBS 100: Introduction to Information Literacy and ResearchBryant & Stratton College, Amherst CampusCharlene D. Shotwell BA, MLSIf you are using printed copies of articles from online databases: Read the printed copy of your article with a highlighter and a pen in hand. As you readthe article, highlight any sections that seem especially interesting or pertinent to your topic.These could possibly become sections that you quote or paraphrase in your writing. As you readyour printed article, also write your own notes or comments in the margins. You may wish tomake notes about how the material in the article could support your thesis and/or points you willmake in your paper. You might also find yourself summarizing, in a few shorter words orsentences, what the author or authors are taking many paragraphs or pages to say. Thesecomments could possibly become summaries in your writing. Remember, with summaries youwould still cite the author information and date information for in text citations, but you wouldnot indicate a specific page. Several databases, such as EBSCO, will also give you the option ofhaving an APA format citation appear at the top of the printed version of the article if it is printedin HTML format. Just be sure however to make the necessary corrections and adjustments in theformat, as these citations are automatically generated and may sometimes have inaccuracies inAPA style.If you are using photocopies of articles that you found in hard copy format or PDFs ofarticles that you have found in electronic form from online databases: Take the same approach that you would with the above described printed articles fromonline databases and highlight and make notes accordingly. If you are photocopying a periodicalarticle, check to see if the publication information is listed on the bottom of the page. Sometimesperiodicals will have the publication title, volume and issue number information and pageinformation at the bottom of the page. If this information is not at the bottom of the page,consider also photocopying the cover of the periodical itself or taking notes to remember the title,volume and issue information, etc. For PDF documents on databases also check to see if thepublication information is listed on the bottom of the page. If not, you may with to separatelyprint the citation from the database if one is available. You will need this information to formatyour in text and Reference page citations.If you are using printed copies of information that you have found from web pages: Again, read through the printed information carefully, highlighting pertinent orinteresting sections and writing notes or summaries in the margins. To collect the informationthat will be needed for your in text citations and your References page, scan the source to find theauthor, date and title information (understand that with web pages all of this information mightnot be available.) Also make note of the date when you accessed the web page and the entireURL of the web page. Sometimes the date when you accessed the page and the URL will appearat the bottom of your printout, but if the computer you are using does not print this information besure to record it on your own.If you are using written or recorded notes from any other sources that you have collected, suchas personal interviews, multimedia materials, etc.: If you have written notes from a personal interview take a similar approach as you wouldwith the other printed sources and highlight, make notes and summarize accordingly. To have theproper information that you will need for your in text citations (because personal interviews donot appear on the References page) be sure to have the interviewee’s name and the date youinterviewed him or her. If you are using multimedia materials, examine the materials for author,date, title and publishing information.