OVERVIEW • This workshop covers how to select a topic and develop research questions, as well as how to select, search for, find, and evaluate information sources. • This workshop is intended to help you improve how you perform research, so you can tackle information problems anywhere. • This workshop is not a guide to finding specific resources for a specific topic; instead, it introduces the process of doing research and the skills required to make good decisions along the way.
THE BASICS • The information world can be viewed from many different, overlapping points-of-view. For example, common concepts like fiction and non-fiction, speech and writing, or broadcasting and print divide information into broad categories that can be helpful in understanding, evaluating, and organizing it. We start by looking at 3 of these points-of- view as a context for doing research. – Basic understanding of the Internet – Distinguish scholarly from popular communication – Distinguish primary from secondary information sources
THE BASICS • The Internet allows transmission of a varietythe internet of file types, including non-written multimedia. • There are many kinds of Internet sites that you might find during the course of a search, sites created by different people or organizations with different objectives. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/basics/basic01.html • The animation illustrates some of the types of sites on the Web, using an example search for information about MP3 players. Click on each search result to watch a short movie when each movie is done, click on the Back button.
THE BASICS • genre: noun 1. A type or class. 2. A category ofpublications composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content. American Heritage Dictionary [online], 2005 Bartleby.com. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/basics/basic02.html • Popular communication ~ informs and entertains the general public. • Scholarly communication ~ publishes research and academic discussion among professionals within disciplines • Trade communication ~ allows practitioners in specific industries to share market and production information that improves their businesses.
THE BASICS • Primary sources are original,sources uninterpreted information. Unedited, firsthand access to words, images, or objects created by persons directly involved in an activity or event or speaking directly for a group. – Think of physical evidence or eyewitness testimony in a court trial. • Secondary sources interpret, analyze or summarize. – Think of a lawyers final summation or jury discussion in a court trial. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/basics/basic03.html
INFORMATION • This will help you to understand howCYCLE information is produced and how information about a topic or event changes over time. – Acquire a basic understanding of information production and distribution – Identify differences among information source types
INFORMATION • We take in so much information in so manyCYCLE different forms every day, its hard to makemaking senseof information sense of it all. In extreme cases, we may even experience "information overload." • So, its important to understand that information is produced and distributed in general patterns, often referred to as "Information Cycles." Its not an exact science; but a skilled researcher who understands these patterns and knows which types of information sources are most appropriate for any given project or question, is likely to achieve consistent success in finding what they need.
INFORMATION • The information of a news event is part of CYCLE making sense a continuum that may never end, just slow of information down over time. Day of event Week after event Year after eventBroadcast & Web News Magazines Books Reference Works Newspapers Journals Government Publications Day after event Month after event
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Web links allow exploration of relatedbroadcast & informationweb news – Immediate access to breaking storiesWeb news sites(like CNN.com) are – Stories updated regularly and oftenbecoming an – Access to first-hand interviews & videoimportant news footageresource. They canbe accessed at any • Considerationstime; they provide – Web sites and broadcast media arent alwayslinks to other archived and preservedinformation – Commercialism (ads, banners, editorial choicessources on the driven by sponsors) may create bias andWeb. sensationalism – Target audience: General public
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Local perspectives on a storynewspapers – Primary source for eventsMost newspapersare typically – Good for local news stories too small to bepublished for a published elsewheresingle city or town, – Good for tracking news stories over timewhile papers from • Considerationsthe largest cities(The New York – Back issues of most papers, when available,Times) have a are normally only on microfilm or in Webmore global archives.readership, and – Web versions frequently differ from printothers target a versionsspecializedaudience (Wall – Target audience: General public, usually in aStreet Journal). specific city or region
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Popular perspectives on the social impacts ofpopular researchmagazines – Perspectives of particularPublished, they – Reviews of popular literature, art, and filmcover everythingfrom news and – Easily located at libraries, newsstands, andentertainment, to bookstoresamateur science, • Considerationsto recreation andhobbies. – May be used for clues even when not cited in final paper – Be wary of bias; objectivity is a myth. What do you know about the publisher? Does the publication have an editorial slant? Who is responsible for content? – Target audience: General public
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Written by and for scholars, researchers, andjournals professionals -- a formal conversation among specialistsJournals are a – Contain bibliographies with full citationsformal means ofcommunicating – Filtering ensures high credibilityideas in academic – In-depth analysis of narrowly-focused subjectsscholarship. – Authoritative source for research findingsArticles are peerreviewed or • Considerationsscreened before – Dense, technical vocabulariesthey are approved – Normally published monthly or quarterly; not afor publication by great source for the latest developmentsscholars whoevaluate articles. – May only be available in libraries or through licensed Internet sources ($$) – Target audience: Scholars, researchers, & professionals
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Broad overviews of topics (text books arebooks especially good for this)Books often – Long enough to explore more ideas in morerequire a proposal, depthresearch, – Scholarly books contain bibliographies whichreflection,synthesis, editing, can be helpful for starting research and findingrevision, and more informationprinting. Popular • Considerationsbooks can be – You will not find coverage of the latest eventsrushed intoproduction – Take longer to read than articlesbecause they often – Essay collections on a broad theme mayarent carefully contain an essay on your topic that is notresearched and directly indicated by the booksrepresent a quickprofit. – Popular books are often not well-researched, but may give you ideas – Target audience: General public or scholars
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Laws : from treaties, pacts, and internationalgovernment agreements to village ordinancespublications – Legislative histories and related informationInformation fromall levels of all – A statistical gold mine! Nobody gathers moregovernments, numbers than governments.including state and • Considerationsforeign – Foreign government information may be hardgovernments, aswell as reports of to get (even on the Internet) and may not beresearch projects in Englishfunded by the – U.S. government documents in print aregovernment in all organized uniquely and may require some helpfields. There from a librarian.probably isnt atopic about which – Target audience: All typesgovernment hasnot published.
INFORMATION • StrengthsCYCLE – Good starting points for research, particularly inreference unfamiliar topicAttempt to – Good sources for quick facts, contact information,summarize topics or statisticsand/or assist in – Good for discovering new vocabulariesfinding secondary – Provide lists of information sources on a topicliterature. The • Considerationspurpose of thesesources is to – Usually tools for finding more in-depth informationanswer short sources, rather than being sources themselves.questions, provide – Normally are found in the librarys reference sectionbackground and cannot be checked out.information, and – To start serious research, you should know enoughhelp you find other about your topic to talk about it for 1 minutesources. Reference without repeating yourself.works come in an – Target audience: All typesassortment oftypes on allsubjects
TOPICS • This section will help you find an appropriate topic or question for research and demonstrate how that question can be focused to suit the limits of time available, length of assignment, or scope of the problem to be solved. – Select an appropriate topic for research – Generate questions from a topic – Broaden and narrow a question – Identify key concepts and vocabularies related to a topic – Broaden and narrow concepts and vocabularies related to a topic
TOPICS 1. Understand the assignment. Dont risk selectingbasic pointers inappropriate materials or addressing irrelevant issues. No matter how well you write or speak, this will usually result inThe word poor work. If necessary, discuss the assignment with your"research" is used instructor.to describe anumber of similar 2. Select a topic that interests you. Personal interest makesand often research more enjoyable and any presentation of the findingsoverlapping more enjoyable for its audience.activities involvinga search for 3. If possible, select a topic you are already researching forinformation. another project. This may not only save you some time but allow you to explore different facets of the same topic and build a deeper understanding. 4. Select a topic that is not likely to be chosen by others. Imagine a course instructor reading a dozen papers on the same two or three topics. Finding an original topic or perspective is likely to be looked upon favorably (but see #1 above.)
Research Type Essential Characteristics A search for individual facts or data. May be part of1. Find the population of each the search for the solution to a larger problem orcountry in Africa or the total (in simply the answer to a bar bet. Concerned with factsdollars) of Japanese investment in rather than knowledge or analysis and answers canthe U.S. in 2002. normally be found in a single source. A report or review, not designed to create new information or insight but to collate and synthesize2. Find out what is known generally existing information. A summary of the past. Answersabout a fairly specific topic. "What can typically be found in a selection of books, articles,is the history of the Internet?" and Web sites. [Note: gathering this information may often include activities like #1 above.] Gathering and analyzing a body of information or data and extracting new meaning from it3. Gather evidence to determine or developing unique solutions to problems orwhether gang violence is directly cases. This is "real" research and requires an open-related to playing violent video ended question for which there is no ready answer.games. [Note: this will always include #2 above and usually #1. It may also involve gathering new data through experiments, surveys, or other techniques.]
TOPICS • Research requires a question for which no readyusing a topic answer is available. What do you want to knowto generate about a topic? Asking a topic as a question (orquestions series of related questions) has several advantages: • 1. Questions require answers. A topic is hard to cover completely because it typically encompasses too many related issues; but a question has an answer, even if it is ambiguous or controversial. TOPIC QUESTION Could liberalization of drug laws Drugs and crime reduce crime in the U.S.?
TOPICS • 2. Questions give you a way of evaluating theusing a topic evidence. A clearly stated question helps youto generate decide which information will be useful. A broadquestions topic may tempt you to stash away information that may be helpful, but youre not sure how. A question also makes it easier to know when you have enough information to stop your research and draft an answer. • 3. A clear open-ended question calls for real research and thinking. Asking a question with no direct answer makes research and writing more meaningful to both you and your audience. Assuming that your research may solve significant problems or expand the knowledge base of a discipline involves you in more meaningful activity of community and scholarship.
TOPICS • Developing a question from a broad topic can beusing a topic done in many ways. Two such effective ways areto generate brainstorming and concept mapping.questions – brainstorming noun: 1. A method of shared problem solving in which all members of a group spontaneously contribute ideas. 2. A similar process undertaken by a person to solve a problem by rapidly generating a variety of possible solutions. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 • Brainstorming is spontaneously listing all words, concepts, ideas, questions, and knowledge about a topic. After making a lengthy list, sort the ideas into categories. This allows you to inventory your current awareness of a topic, decide what perspectives are most interesting and/or relevant, and decide in which direction to steer your research.
TOPICS – concept mapping noun phrase: 1. A process,using a topic focused on a topic, in which group orto generate individual brainstorming produces a visualquestions graphic that represents how the creator(s) thinks about a subject, topic, etc. It illustrates how knowledge is organized for the group or individual. • You may create a concept map as a means of brainstorming; or, following your brainstorm, you may take the content you have generated and create your map from it . Concept maps may be elaborate or simple and are designed to help you organize your thinking about a topic, recognize where you have gaps in your knowledge, and help to generate specific questions that may guide your research.
TOPICS • A question that is too narrow or specific may notbroadening a retrieve enough information. If this happens, broadenresearch the question. Most questions have multiple contexts andquestion varying levels of specificity. – INSTEAD OF Should Makah whaling rituals be permitted despite endangered species laws? – TRY Should Native Americans practice religious and social customs that violate local and Federal laws? – INSTEAD OF What are the economic impacts of sweat shops on development in South Asia? – TRY What are the impacts of U.S. labor practices on developing countries?
TOPICS • A question that is too broad may retrieve too much narrowing information. Here are some strategies for narrowing the a research scope of a question. They may be used individually or in question combinations.Strategy Explanation Internet Security Topic Current Internet securityTime Since 1990? This year? In the future? initiatives. Local social norms & values, economic Internet security initiativesinPlace & political systems, or languages. the U.S Gender, age, occupation, ethnicity, Filtering software and nationality, educational attainment, childrens access toPopulation species, etc. Internet pornography Social, legal, medical, ethical, biological, psychological, economic, political, The constitutionality ofViewpoint philosophical? A viewpoint allows you to Internet filtering technology focus on a single aspect.
TOPICS • Computers cant guess what you mean and areselecting key easily confused by ambiguity, so clarify for themwords and what you will be looking for. Focus only onconcepts essential concepts.Prepare for – "media coverage of 9/11"searching by Media cover events. Unless the media caused theidentifying the event, this term is unnecessary.central concepts – advantages of home schooling over public schoolsin your research Value words like "favorite," "advantage," orquestion. "better" are not useful if you need to gather evidence to help you make a decision or develop a solution. Dont just grab an opinion or the "right" answer off someone elses shelf. – dissertations about bioethics Many databases and search engines are programmed to ignore common words that dont impact a search. These are called "stopwords" and typically include terms like "the," "from," "about," "when," etc. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/topics/topic06.html
SEARCHING • Most search engines and databases search "wordsfield searching anywhere" or "keywords" automatically unless you select another type of search. • Keyword searching finds matches for your terms in any field of a record or any part of a Web page, so you will typically retrieve more informationwith less precision. This is sometimes called "recall" searching because it focuses on recalling as much information as possible. • Databases and search engines may allow searching in specific fields such as author, title, url (Web address), or subject and will sometimes refer to this as "advanced," or "expert" searching. These searches will typically retrieve less information with more precision. This is called "precision" searching because it focuses on finding only precisely what you need.
SEARCHING • If you are a detective and thefield searching only clues you have for a missing persons case are the words "red," "blue," and "green," these people could be a match. This is keyword searching. • RED + BLUE + GREEN • If instead you knew your person had a red tie, blue shirt, and a green beret, you have a better chance of finding the right person. This is field searching. • Tie:RED and Shirt:BLUE and Beret:GREEN
SEARCHING • Most databases dont understand the naturalcreating a language we speak and need help understandingsearch query what were looking for.Databases – Quotation marksand search Around exact phrases (e.g. "university ofengines apply southern california")these rules – Logical or Boolean operatorsdifferently, so Connecting words that narrow or broaden acheck HELP files search to include only what you need.to find out howto use them. Examples: OR, AND, NOT – Wildcards and truncation symbols(* # ? !) For terms that have variant forms of spelling or different possible endings. Examples: child* for child, children, childhood, childish, etc. – Nesting Placing terms in parentheses to indicate separate units. (Like an equation, (A or B) not C http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/searching/search07.htm
FINDING • A citation is a brief description of one specific citations information source, usually appearing in a bibliography, list of references, or a database. • It includes enough information to permit the reader to find the source and may appear in a number of variant formats, e.g. American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Council of Biology Editors (CBE), or Chicago Style. • A citation is made of parts, each part indicating specific information about the source. The citation below (in APA style) refers to an article found in a journal called Climatic Change.Author Article Title Volume # Page #Kirchner, J.W. (2002). “The Gaia Hypothesis.” Climatic Change. 52 (4) 391-408. Publication Year Journal Title Issue #
FINDING • Citations represent more than just books andreading magazines. They represent any written, spoken, orcitations broadcast source, including Web sites, a single chapter from a book, the text of a law or treaty, an interview, or a documentary video. • Accurate citations allow you to track down the most difficult-to-find sources, wherever they may be located. http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/finding/finding02.html
FINDING • Within a library collection, materials are typicallylibrary organized by subject. Each book is assigned a callclassification number based on a works subject and then shelvedsystems in order. • There are 2 main subject classification systems that determines where it will be shelved. Library of Congress: Used in Dewey Decimal: Used in most most college, university, and public and school libraries research libraries because it because it is more effective for handles large collections. smaller collections. HG General subject 303.6 General subject 1385 Specific subject 1097 Specific subject T48 Author W89388T Title & Author 2000 Pub. date 2000 Pub. date
EVALUATING • This section will introduce criteria for evaluating your research strategies and for evaluating information sources. – Develop a basic set of criteria for evaluating your search strategy – Develop a basic set of criteria for evaluating information sources
EVALUATING • Do you believe everything you read? Knowing more credibility about an author can help you judge her or his credibility. Credentials: the abilities and • If you were writing about the relationship between experiences which human activity and the temperature of the earth, make someone whose work would you choose to include in your suitable for a paper? Look for clues that suggest their level of particular job or expertise and/or bias. activity A. An atmospheric B. A Washington Post staff C. Current president ofphysicist at Winston writer who has written articles Greater ChipiwickUniversity and founder of such as "Arctic Ice Shelf Environmental Club, andthe Science and Crumbles Into Sea," "In publisher of a Web site thatEnvironmental Policy Infrastructure Debate, Politics discusses the major causesProject, a think tank on Is Key Player," and "Presidents of global warming in the lastclimate and environmental Reform Efforts Get Results." 100 years.issues
EVALUATING • In terms of evaluating an author, credentials includecredibility degrees received, titles held, professional affiliations, years of activity in a field, publication history, fields of inquiry, and the characteristics of publications in which their work has appeared. Publishers Credibility • Similar to judging an authors credentials, knowing more about a publishing company can help you understand their potential biases. Keep in mind that publishing standards vary for each publishing house. XYZ Publishing may print anything that will bring a profit, whereas H. University Press may screen all information they publish to ensure the validity of the content, protecting their reputation.
EVALUATING • Before reviewing the questions below, select one of usefulness the following sources as most useful for a research paper on the current use of primates in scientific laboratories?A. "Monkeys in our B. Laboratory Primate C. "Better numbers onLabs," by Scott Advocacy Group website. primate research," byGottieber, a USA LPAG is a nonprofit Constance Holden.Today staff writer. organization. Website last Published by thePublished inUSA updated in 2001. "LPAG American AssociationToday Dec 15, 1989. believes that the for the Advancement ofIncludes chart, laboratory is no place for Science. Appeared"Number of Test monkeys and nonhuman in Science, a scholarlyPrimates in the US, great apes." publication, on March1975-1985." 30, 2001.
EVALUATING – Are the goals for this publication clearly stated?usefulness Is there a particular bias evident? Is the viewpoint of the authors affiliation reflected inWhen deciding the message or content? Does the informationwhether or not an appear to be valid and well-researched?information sourceis useful in the – Does this appear to be quality work?context of your Is the information well-organized? Has theresearch, you author used good grammar? Are the graphicsshould consider images, tables, charts, diagrams appropriate andthe following clearly presented?issues regarding – How does it cover your topic?content. Is it comprehensive? an overview? highly detailed and narrowly-focused? Does the work update other sources? – Does the work address your research question or meet the requirements of your assignment? Is the content appropriate for your research topic or assignment?
SUMMARY • Congratulations you have completed Evaluating, the last unit of the Research 101 tutorial. You should now have: • A basic understanding of the Internet and can distinguish scholarly from popular communication, and primary from secondary sources. • A general picture of the information world within which research takes place and the differences among some important information sources • Selected a topic, generated a research question, and selected key concepts and terms to use when you search for information. • A basic understanding of databases, field searching, logical operators and related strategies, and have executed at least one search for information. • Learned how to read citations and use them to find information sources. • Developed criteria for evaluating your search strategy and information sources.
SOURCE • Research 101 : An Interactive Introduction to Research Skills – http://www.usc.edu/libraries/research101/index.html