There are many ways to approach searching for information. Much of it depends on the question you're asking and how that question is discussed by various experts. For example, in many humanities and social sciences fields, scholars might publish scholarly articles, chapters in books, and entire books. Other disciplines, like some of the hard sciences, tend to primarily publish scholarly articles. Use the tips on this page to search efficiently and effectively.
The best way to discover the right search terms to use is to figure out how experts in the field are discussing the topic. There are many ways to do this:
Databases and library catalogs have specialized search features that will help you conduct more sophisticated searching. Use these various features to save yourself time and headaches.
It's easy - and normal - to default to resources that have worked in the past. If Google Scholar or Academic Search Premier helped us find materials for a project in a different course, we naturally would use it again. But be sure to expand your resources, too. There are a lot of specialized databases for Political Science that you should use in addition to others that worked.
Scholars commonly explore the conversation surrounding their topics through bibliographic traces. Scholars read interesting studies or articles or books in their field; scholars then mine the citations in those works to find related research materials. They also look for more recent research materials that have cited the first resource. Here's a page that has more information on how to conduct a bibliographic trace.
Librarians are personal research consultants. 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. There are many ways to get in touch 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.
Here are some common mistakes people tend to make while conducting research. We all do at least some version of this, but it's good to recognize when we fall into some of these traps. The tips on this rest of this page will help you self-correct.