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REL 315: Mystics of the West: Search Tips

Course guide for REl 315: Mystics of the West

Searching Databases & Library Catalogs

There are many techniques you can use to search more effectively and efficiently. Use these tips to become a more sophisticated researcher. Be sure to browse the common research mistakes to avoid research pitfalls.

Search Terms - how do we develop search terms?

  • Remember that research is a conversation, so pay attention to the words that experts in your field are using when they talk about your topic. Use these words when you search.
  • Identify key concepts and terms relating to your topic
  • Consider synonyms and alternate spellings
  • Utilize reference books for search term ideas as well as a thorough overview of your topic
  • Google
  • Wikipedia

Use the Right Resources - when doing research, you need to be looking in the right spot

  • Use the Research Guides link on the library's homepage to explore appropriate databases for your topic
  • Don't overlook books - they can provide detailed treatments of topics, especially if you find that articles are too narrow
  • Talk with a librarian for more suggestions
  • Talk with your professor

 Common Research Mistakes - here are some common mistakes we see when students are conducting research

  • Lack of persistence; especially not going the extra mile to find hard copies of useful resources
  • Conducting research in terms of "finding the answer" as opposed to contemplating "how does my work fit and address existing scholarly conversations on the topic?"
  • Not being systematic/ reflective/ intentional
  • Not talking with professor and information professionals about issues right away

Ask for Help

  • Think of librarians as your personal research consultant.  We can help you think through possible search terms, suggest specific resources to search, track down sources and point you in directions you may not have considered.  Stop by the Reference Desk to chat with us.

  • Your professors are also here to help, plus they are experts in the field as well. So talk with them about your research & any problems you're having.


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