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Library Research Information
This material offers some general principles regarding doing library research.
Please check with your professor to determine if there are any course or assignment -specific procedures that you are to follow.
Step 1 : Defining a Topic for Research
- Is the topic assigned? If so, understand thoroughly what is asked of you.
- What degree of flexibility do you have?
- What is the level of detail required?
- Is there a target audience?
- Are there specific time constraints on your research?
Step 2: Getting an Overview
- General-purpose encyclopedias, e.g Britannica (in print or online)
- Subject-specific encyclopedias, e.g. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology or Access Science (Online)
- Discipline-specific reference works
- Information included in reference works constitutes the "accepted view" on a subject.
- Material is generally obtained from experts in various fields and is usually authoritative.
- Reference works do not generally cover current developments on a topic.
Step 3: Obtaining Reference Works
- Reference materials are located via ONU's POLAR online catalog.
- Materials are located in the reference collection on the library's first floor.
- Materials can be checked out for 1 day.
- Most other libraries do not loan reference works.
- Note bibliographies in these works.
Step 4: Gathering Information - Books
- Books will generally treat a topic in more detail than reference works.
- Timeliness may be greater than for reference works but less than for periodicals.
- Authoritativeness of content is determined by the author's qualifications and editorial review.
- POLAR and OHIOLINK Central Catalog are the main locating tools.
- Books can either be in print or online (E-books)
Step 4: Locating Books using POLAR
- POLAR covers materials in Heterick and the Taggart Law Library.
- Includes books, audio-visual materials, government documents, computer files maps, etc.
- basically anything that is not a periodical article.
- OhioLINK central catalog may be accessed via POLAR.
- If you search in POLAR and find nothing, click on the OhioLINK Central button.
- For example, ONU does not have Everything You Think You Know About Politics...
- It can be borrowed from one of the libraries listed.
- POLAR currently covers ca. 400,000 items while the central catalog includes ca. 7 million.
- Search POLAR first since items owned locally cannot be borrowed unless they are unavailable.
Step 5: Locating Books via WorldCAT
- If you cannot locate something in either POLAR or OhioLINK, try WorldCAT, for all other items. WorldCAT contains materials from libraries world-wide and includes 49 million+ items.
- WorldCAT has links to the OhioLINK catalog for works owned by OhioLINK members.
- It does not have a self-request feature like OhioLINK's central catalog.
- Non-OhioLINK materials cited in WorldCAT can be obtained by traditional interlibrary loan.
Step 6: Periodicals - Databases
- Over 125 databases are available from the Heterick home page.
- Note that some are fairly general like Academic Search. Others, like ERIC, an education database, may concentrate on a specific field.
- These can be used from any networked computer.
- Articles cited in indexes will fall into one of three categories.
- Available online
- Available in print at ONU
- Available via interlibrary loan
Step 7: Obtaining Items via Interlibrary Loan
- If an item is not available on campus or via OhioLINK, submit an interlibrary loan request.
- Provide as much of the requested information as possible.
- The library staff will contact you when the material arrives.
- Most requests are filled in 5-7 days.
- There is no charge for this service and no limit on the number of items that can be requested.
Step 8: Internet Resources
- Used with care, the Internet can be a valuable source of information. However: The Internet is loosely-structured. Roughly 41% of all web sites are accessible via search engines. In most cases, there is little editorial control over web content. Caveat lector (Let the reader beware). One approach is to use a tool like Associations Unlimited as a starting point.
Step 9: Other Resources
- At the end of the research process, you will need to forge the information located into some sort of final product. In the case of written products (papers) you would do well to check with your professor as to appropriate citation formats.
- The library has numerous style manuals to assist you in writing papers.
- The Communication Skills Center on Heterick's second floor can help with both spoken and written assignments.