A student writes a paper in Kistle Science Library

Doing Research

Research is a time-consuming process. It is often not a straight line from where you begin to where you finish. There are ways, though, to focus and save time within the research process; see the following for strategies and tips:

Ask Questions!

Librarians and technology/research/circulation (TRC) student workers are always happy to help you with your research. There are several easy ways to find us:

Research Process:

  1. Question: What question(s) do you want to address in your research?

    Choose a topic and find reference sources on your topic.

    Brainstorm promising search terms. Make a list of words that describe your topic. In addition to words for broad concepts (e.g. poverty, feminism), consider more specific keywords such as words describing the following:

    Find background information on your topic using encyclopedias or a specialized dictionary… or Wikipedia — just don’t end your research there.

    • Event: an event within the context of your topic.
    • Time: a particular time period connected to your topic.
    • Person or group: an individual or group identified with the topic or particularly affected by it.
    • Place: a region, city or other geographical unit connected to your topic.
  2. Identify useful sources.

    Use library subject guides to choose relevant book and article databases.

    Create a search statement to use in databases or the catalog.

    Find statistics and data sets (step-by-step guide).

  3. Locate the sources that you identified.

    Library Catalog (for print books, ebooks, films, online and print journals, magazines, newspapers, and many other resources both print and online).

    Find items at libraries beyond Grinnell (bottom of page).

  4. Evaluate sources through close, critical examination.

    Evaluating sources with the 5 W's: Here's an easy-to-remember method for judging sources, adapted from the disciplines of rhetoric and journalism:

    Don’t hesitate to ask your professor or talk to a librarian about what you’ve found. We can’t make decisions about your topic or sources for you, but we can use our experience and expertise to help you think through the process.

    • Who wrote it? An individual or multiple persons? A corporate author?
    • What is it? A book chapter, a book, a print periodical article, a full text article obtained via an online database, a government document, proceedings from a conference, a Web page?
    • Where was it published? Name and location of publishing company, name and domain (.edu., .org or .gov) of a website or page.
    • When was it published or updated?
    • Why was this resource created? To entertain, inform, persuade? What is its thesis, its point of view, its hypothesis?
    • How is the item available? In print or electronic form?
    • Is this source scholarly or popular?
  5. Create and share your work so others may learn.

    Visit the Writing Lab.

    Organize your sources and generate bibliographies.

  6. Cite Sources

    Poster Making Tips

    Digital Grinnell: shares scholarly and creative work created at the College with the world.

    Venues for Presenting Research: submit your research or MAP project to a conference or for publication.
  7. Scholarship and Open Access

    Open Access Resolution

    Data Management Services

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