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Research is a Conversation Video
Associations & Organizations
Consider what associations or other organizations might be involved in your topic, since they will likely be leading conversations related to your topic. You can explore what's out there through a google search. Also consult some of the suggestions below:
Reference books are a fantastic way to enter the conversation. They give you overviews of topics, search term ideas, and often lists of recommended reading. Here are a few that may be especially useful. Be sure to search the library catalog or ask Julie for help in finding more.
Reference books are located on the main floor, Beck Hall side of the building. They can't be checked out but you can scan pages and email them to yourself.
America Goes Green by
Call Number: REF GE197 .A63 2013
Publication Date: 2012-11-01
Encyclopedia of Food and Culture
Call Number: REF GT2850 .E53 2003
Publication Date: 2002-12-17
Encyclopedia of Organic, Sustainable, and Local Food by
Call Number: REF HD9005 .E645 2010
Publication Date: 2009-12-01
Encyclopedia of Education
Call Number: REF LB15 .E47 2003
Publication Date: 2002-11-14
Wiley Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology, 4 Volume Set by
Call Number: REF TP368.2 .E62 2000
Publication Date: 1999-11-15
The Cambridge World History of Food by
Call Number: REF TX353 .C255 2000
Publication Date: 2000-10-09
Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food by
Call Number: REF TX370 .S63 2006
Publication Date: 2006-08-01
You should also take a look at CQ Researcher, which is found in the reference section (REF H35 .E352). Most recent issues are in a binder and you'll also find materials by year. The CQ Researcher contains in-depth pamphlets on a variety of subjects. Search the index to find the most recent info about your topic.
Julie's Strategies for Doing Community-Based Research
The strategies we use for researching issues in our communities are similar to the ones we use for any other kind of research. Research is a conversation (for more about this, see the video to the left!), and in order to know what experts are talking about in your area of study, you need to gain a broad understanding of the conversations happening around your topic before you can start contributing meaningfully to the conversation. For your topics, you will want to consider what the scholarly literature says about your topic, as well as track down examples of how the conversation is playing out both locally and more broadly.
Here's an overview of strategies for doing this kind of research:
- Read broadly in the field, especially in the kinds of publications that are used in the field. These may be newspaper articles, trade publications (works produced by people in the field for others in the field), scholarly articles, books, blog posts, twitter conversations, etc.
- Pay attention to the primary issues people are discussing. What are the hot topics in your field? Where are the passionate, involved, maybe controversial conversations happening and what are they?
- Note the vocabulary people are using in conversations. Are there specific phrases or specialized vocabulary people in the field use? Pay attention to these words and phrases, since you will be using these as search terms.
- Identify some of the key players in the conversation. Who are the experts? Can you find more materials that they've written? With community-based research, this might also mean picking up the phone or emailing someone in the community who is a local expert.
- Throughout the entire process, you should always be evaluating what you find. Are you finding sources written or produced by experts in the field? How can you tell? Do any claims sound dubious or conflicting? Try to verify the facts and find out the facts.
USE THE MATERIALS ON THIS GUIDE TO ENTER, EXPLORE AND EVALUATE THE CONVERSATION SURROUNDING YOUR TOPIC.
You can always get in contact with Julie with any questions or issues, or if you just want advice on how to proceed. Use the contact information under my picture to get ahold of me. Or send me a message on Slack!
Searching for Articles
Use the following databases to search for articles about your topic. Search both during the Enter and Explore stages of research. Look for materials about your topic and then return to find additional sources.
Academic Search Premier
This database contains materials on a huge variety of subjects. It's always worth a look.
Citations and abstracts for agricultural publications from the 15th century to the present, including articles from over 600 periodicals, USDA and state experiment station and extension publications, and selected books. Subjects include animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, food and human nutrition, and earth and environmental sciences. Many records are linked to full-text documents online. A resource of the National Agricultural Library.
Major index to literature in education. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, it provides full citations and abstracts for journal articles, books, curricula, government documents, dissertations, and research reports. ERIC citations date from 1966 to the present, and full text is available for many research reports.
Professional Development Collection
Designed for professional educators, this database provides a collection of nearly 520 education journals, including more than 350 peer-reviewed titles. Also contains more than 200 educational reports. Access is provided by eLibraryMN (ELM).
ProQuest US Newsstream
Full text to major and regional newspapers. Useful in finding examples of food programs and initiatives in other communities. Pay attention to experts who are being quoted in stories, too. Track down publications those experts may have written or produced.
Teacher Reference Center
Provides indexing and abstracts for over 280 teacher and administrator trade journals, periodicals and books to assist professional educators. Coverage includes assessment, curriculum development, literacy standards, and more.
To investigate your topic, you may need to access local sources. These are the kinds of sources that don't necessarily pop up in traditional library searches. Here are some ideas and links:
St. Peter Herald
St. Peter's local paper, published weekly. The online version has a search box, but it does limit you to 15 free articles in a 30 day period. The library subscribes to the Herald in print, although we only retain the last two months in print. Find copies of the paper on the shelves near the couches by the main floor entrance. (The Saint Peter Public Library keeps the print version of the Herald for a year. You are more than welcome to walk to the public library and browse their papers. More info on the public library is below.)
St. Peter Public Library
In addition to retaining a year's worth of print copies of the St. Peter Herald, the public library also has newspapers from other local communities. As a Gustavus student, you can get a public library card if you bring your Three Crowns (ID) card to the library.
Mankato Free Press
Mankato's local paper, published daily. You will hit similar limits on the number of free articles in the Free Press as you will with the St. Peter Herald. The Gustavus library retains the past month in print (shelves by the couches near the main entrance) and you can find issues at the St. Peter Public Library, too.
To find examples of what other school districts are doing, you can do google searches and/or you can look for articles about similar initiatives by searching newspaper articles in ProQuest Newsstand and looking for some trade publications in ERIC, Professional Reference Collection and Teacher Research Center (all databases are on the drop down menu under Articles on the library's main page and also linked in the Searching for Articles box above).
Statistics and Other Data
There are many places to find statistics. Pay attention to any articles or books you're reading, as they will likely contain statistics about your topics already. You can also try some of these places:
Provides U.S. federal and state reports and statistics on children and families.
Tracks the welfare of children in the U.S. on a state-by-state basis.
Statistical Abstract of the United States - Ready Reference HA 202 .P76
This is perhaps the single most useful small package of statistical information available. It includes hundreds of tables of figures on population, economics, social factors, etc., with references to the original sources. An index to the tables provide essay access. The print volume at the Reference Desk (Ready Ref) is the most current. A web version (current to 2012) can be found at Census.gov
National Center for Education Statistics
A vast collection of data on schools, teachers, educational attainment, and more. From the U.S. Department of Education.
Digest of Educational Statistics - Ref L 11 .D48
An annual compilation of national statistics covering enrollments, families, and various social factors, such as poverty status of children by race/ethnicity, and many other topics for kindergarten through higher education. Some of the data tables are the same each year, but others are unique data sets, compiled for that year only.
New to the Library?
If doing research in the library and at the college level is relatively new to you, have no fear. You can always ask for help in the library, either at the Reference Desk or, if no one's at the Reference Desk, at the Information Desk. Both are right inside the front entrance of the library.
You might also find this guide useful in answer basic questions about how the library (and research) work.
This guide from Purdue University provides an overview of plagiarism and best practices for avoiding it.
Evaluating Journals and Magazines
Tips on how to recognize reliable sources by evaluating them in terms of relevance, currency, audience, and credibility.
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