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Research Strategies

A research strategy is an organized plan for gathering information. Developing a search strategy will help you locate appropriate information from a variety of sources. For a research paper or speech, the following is a useful search strategy:

1. Choose a topic
2. What Resources to Use
3. Indentifying Search Items
4. Searching LAMP
5. Locating Periodicals
6. Using the Catalog
7. Locating Government Publications
8. Locating Biographical Material
9. Locating Statistical Material
10.Searching the Internet
11.Evaluating Resources
12.Giving Credit
13.Copyright Information

1. CHOOSE A TOPIC - that interests you (If you already have a topic in mind, continue to #2). You may want to ask yourself, "What kind of information do I need?" You may need an overview, comprehensive research on a topic, or a quick reference to a fact. Once you decide what type of information you need, you can select a source that will be likely to have the information or plan a search strategy that will include several types of sources.

.... I.. Choose a topic within the subject area that is:

Interesting to you;
Not too broad - with hundreds of books and articles about it
(Example: AIDS, drug abuse, South Africa, Civil War);
Not too narrow - with nothing or only one or two articles written about it
(Examples: "The effect of drug abuse on the athletic performance of 18-year-old hockey players in Argentina" or "A comparison of the marketing strategies of two barber shops in Harrisonburg, VA")

.... II.Identify the main concepts of your topic as shown below

Topic: Does smoking in teenagers affect social relationships?

Main concepts:
.......... a. Smoking
...........b. Teenagers
...........c. Social relationships

.... III.. Review your list of main concepts; think of synonyms for each concept. Create a list of search terms for each concept as in the example below:

Main Concepts and search terms:

A. Smoking
  1. smoking
  2. tobacco use
B. Teenagers
  1. teenagers
  2. adolescent/adolescents
  3. adolescence
C. Social relationships
  1. friendships
  2. dating
  3. social relationships
  4. interpersonal relationships

Use these search terms in Reference books, the LAMP Catalog, and databases related to your research topic.

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2.WHAT RESOURCES TO USE: Use general sources, such as encyclopedias or textbooks, to define and focus the topic, develop an overview and gather background information. The bibliographies in these sources are usually excellent starting points for research, since they provide a list of books and articles that are not only pertinent, but also authoritative.

BASIC INFORMATION: Encyclopedia articles give a broad overview and background information on many subjects. Each article, written by a specialist in that particular field, generally provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject. Articles usually summarize and synthesize information from a variety of sources and include a selective bibliography of other authoritative books and articles on the subject. A general encyclopedia is often the best place to start research because it contains information on almost every subject. Specialized encyclopedias are focused on specific subject fields.

SEARCH STRATEGY FOR LOCATING ENCYCLOPEDIAS USING THE LAMP ONLINE CATALOG: You may find additional encyclopedias in the Reference Collections of the 3 college libraries (Riverside City, Norco and Moreno Valley) by searching the LAMP Online Catalog.

If you have a particular subject area in mind, you may find encyclopedias on that subject by searching as follows:

Search by "Keyword" and typing Encyclop* and Your subject

Example: encyclop* psychology

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World Book Encyclopedia, 2009 - located in Norco College Reference(AE5 .W55 2009)
World Book Encyclopedia - World Book Encyclopedia online includes World Book Kids, World Book Students and World Book Advanced, as well as Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos for beginning Spanish Speakers. Provides articles, multimedia, web links, periodicals, ebooks, and more.
Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia - This database provides over 25,000 encyclopedic entries covering a variety of subject areas.


Social Sciences (Psychology, Political Science, Law, Sociology, Education)

Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. Detroit: Gale, 1996. (Riverside Ref BF 31 .G35 1996)
Encyclopedia of Human Behavior. San Diego, CA : Academic Press, c1994. (Riverside Ref BF31 .E5 1994)
Encyclopedia of Educational Research. New York: Macmillan, 1992. (Riverside Ref LB15 .E48 1992)
Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, c1995. (Riverside & Norco Ref E184.A1 G14 1995)
Encyclopedia of Marriage and the Family. New York: Macmillan, c1995. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref HQ9 .E52 1995)
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union. New York : Cambridge University Press,1994. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref DK14 .C35 1994)
Encyclopedia of the Third World. New York: Facts on File, 1982- (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref HC59.7 .K87 1992)
Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Boston, Mass. : G.K. Hall, 1991-1993. (Norco & Moreno Valley Ref GN550 .E53 1991)
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mankind. (1989 ed - Norco & Moreno Valley Ref GN307 .I44 1989)
Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research (2001 ed - Norco Ref G63 .W67 2001; 1988 ed. - Moreno Valley Ref G63 .W67 1998)
The New Palgrave: a Dictionary of Economics. London: Macmillan, 1987. (Riverside Ref HB61 .N49)
The New Palgrave: a Dictionary of Economics and the Law. London: Macmillan (1998 ed. - Riverside Ref K487 .E3N48 1998
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. New York: Macmillan, 1968-1991. (Norco & Moreno Valley Ref H 40 .I5)
The Social Science Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 1996. (Moreno Valley Ref H41 .S63 1996) and also 1985 edition in Riverside Ref, Norco Main Stacks & Moreno Valley Main Stacks
Encyclopedia of Social Work. Washington, D. C.: National Association of Social Workers, 1995. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref HV35 .S6 - AND - Ref HV35 .S6 1997 suppl.)
Encyclopedia of American Social History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref HN57 E58 1993)
Encyclopedia of Sociology. New York: Macmillan, 2000. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref HM 425 E5 2000)
Encyclopedia of Democracy. Washington, D. C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1995 (Riverside & Moreno Valley Ref JC423 .E53 1995)
Encyclopedia of the American Presidency. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. (Riverside Ref JK511 .E53 1994)
The Encyclopedia of the United States Congress. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995- (Riverside Ref JK 1067 E63 1995)
Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York: Macmillan, 2000 (Moreno Valley Ref. KF4548 E53 2000. The 1986 edition is available at Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref KF 4548 E53 1986

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Science (Biology, Technology, Environment)

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. New York : McGraw-Hill, 1997. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref Q121 .M3 1997)
The Encyclopedia of the Environment. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1994. (Norco Ref GE10 .E53 1994)
Encyclopedia of Endangered Species. Detroit: Gale Research, c1994- (Norco & Moreno Valley Ref QH75 .E53 1994)
The Grolier World Encyclopedia of Endangered Species. Danbury, Conn. : Grolier Educational Corp., 1993. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref QL82 .S4513 1993)
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972-1975. (Riverside Ref QL3 G7813)

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Humanities (Literature, History, Religion, Philosophy, Art, Music)

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1993. (Riverside Ref PN1021 .N39 1993)
The Oxford Companion to American Literature. New York, Oxford University Press, 1983. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref PS21 .H3 1983)
The Oxford Companion to English Literature. New York : Oxford University Press, 2000 (Riverside Ref PR19 .D73 2000. The 1985 edition is available at Riverside Ref., Norco Ref & Moreno Valley Ref: PR19 .D73 1985 )
Dictionary of the Middle Ages. New York : Scribner, 1982-1989. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref D114 .D5 1982)
The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge, 1998. (Riverside Ref & Norco Ref B51 .R68 1998)
The Encyclopedia of Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1986. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref BL31 .E46 1986)
Dictionary of the History of Ideas. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973-1974. (Riverside Ref CB 5 D52)
Man Myth and Magic ... New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. (Riverside & Moreno Valley Ref BF 1407 .M34 1995)
Encyclopedia of American Religions. 6th ed. Detroit : Gale Research, 1999. (Norco Ref. & Moreno Valley Ref BL2525 .M449 1999)
Dictionary of American History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976-1978. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref E 174 D52 1976)
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1996. (Riverside & Moreno Valley Ref E185 E54 1996)
Encyclopedia of World Art. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1959-1987. (Riverside Ref N31 .E533)
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Washington, D.C. : Grove's Dictionaries of Music (2001 ed. - Riverside Ref ML100 .N48 2001; 1980 ed. - Norco & Moreno Valley Ref ML100 .N48 1980) The online version is available through our LAMP system - See it listed on our Electronic Resources Page.

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Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, CA: Pegus Press, 1983. (Riverside, Norco & Moreno Valley Ref TX349 .F575 1983)
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia & Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, & Allied Health. Philadelphia: Saunders, c1997. (Riverside & Moreno Valley Ref R121 .M65 1997)
Encyclopedia of Mental Health. San Diego: Academic Press, 2001 (Riverside Ref. RC437 .K34 2001). and the 1998 edition is available at Riverside Ref., Norco Ref. & Moreno Valley Ref RA790 .E53 1998
Encyclopedia of Bioethics. New York: Macmillan, 1995. (Riverside Ref QH332 .E52 1995)

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3. IDENTIFYING SEARCH TERMS: Identify the main concepts of your topic and generate a list of search terms and subject headings for each. Use these search terms to search the topic in reference books, the on-line catalog, and electronic databases.
4. SEARCHING LAMP: Search the LAMP Online Catalog under the appropriate subject headings and keywords to find books and audiovisual materials in the RCCD libraries. Be sure to see if there are any bibliographies listed. These should be examined first. Also, when you find a good book in the online catalog, check items with the same subject or browse through books nearby on the shelf to find additional books.

The LAMP online catalog does several things:
It identifies materials actually owned (or on order) by the Library & Learning Resource Center (LLRC). The LLRC consists of the 3 college libraries of the Riverside Community College District. These materials include books, journals, newspapers, atlases, video recordings, reference materials, software, etc.)
It tells you where items are located within the LLRC
It tells you if items are currently available, checked out, lost, overdue, on reserve, in processing, or on order
LAMP gives you access to electronic indexes which permit you to bring up on the screen and print the full-text of some electronically available journal articles by clicking on the title and following the links. For articles which are not available in full-text, citations are provided.

You may access the online catalog from:
The public workstations located in any of the LLRC's facilities (All 3 of the college libraries)
Any computers in Riverside Community College District's Computer Labs
Computers in remote locations, such as your apartment.

Searching the LAMP Online Catalog
LAMP's Online Catalog is a user-friendly system, allowing most users to find what they need by following directions on the screens. Within the online catalog, each individual catalog record is interactive, offering active links to quickly lead to similar items. For example, in a catalog record, a user may click on an author's name for a list of other books by that author, or click on the subject headings, for a list of other books with that same subject.
The online catalog permits several types of searches, including: author, title, subject, keyword, and call number. (See LAMP Search Tips for more information on searching the LAMP Online Catalog) In addition, several advanced searching techniques are offered.

Four search capabilities that you might find especially useful are:
Keyword Search - allows you to search by significant words in the title, and contents notes, subject headings, author field, etc.. The Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT may be used in keyword searches.

Examples: Entering the search global warming AND forests will retrieve records containing all three terms (global and warming and forests). If a search is entered with no Boolean operators, the system automatically places the Boolean operator AND between each word.

Entering the search counseling OR psychotherapy will retrieve records containing either the term counseling or the term psychotherapy.

Entering the search apartheid NOT South Africa will retrieve records containing the term apartheid but which do not contain the terms South and Africa. Caution is advised concerning the use of the Boolean operator NOT.

You may also perform a more complex search combining two or more operators. See the section on nesting for more information about this kind of search.

Limit function - is used after a search by clicking on the Limit this Search button. Limiting allows you to restrict the results by:

Year of publication
Material type
Where item is located
Words in the Title
Words in the Author
Words in the Subject

The Limit command is particularly useful in refining a search that has retrieved too many titles.
Browse by order on shelf - allows you to see a list of related items in call number order as they would appear on the shelf. When you find an especially useful source, click on the highlighted call number.
Show similar items - prompts you to find items by the same author or on the same subject. When you find an especially useful source in the online catalog, click on the highlighted subject headings or author.To find materials on a particular subject in the online catalog, you could first do a Keyword search using the words you think best describe the idea.Then, look through your results until you find an item that seems to match your request. Click on the title to view the full record for this item, then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the highlighted subject heading that seems to best describe your topic.

Finding Sources on the Shelf
Copy the location and call number of the source you want and find the material on the shelf using this call number.
If the source you wanted is checked out, you may place a hold on it at the circulation desk. The library will notify you when the item is returned.

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5. LOCATING PERIODICALS: Locate periodical indexes that list useful scholarly journals, popular magazines, and newspaper articles on the topic.Be sure to consult a reference librarian to identify appropriate indexes for your topic. Periodicals may be checked out for seven days.

Types of periodical articles
Popular magazines - Written for the general public for the purpose of informing and entertaining. Newsweek, Time, and Ebony are examples of popular magazines. Because of their easy reading style, magazines may be a good starting point in understanding a topic.
Scholarly journals - Typically have articles written by authorities in the field. They may report new
research developments or provide a scholarly discussion of a topic. They usually include bibliographies. For most college level papers, you should rely more heavily on articles from scholarly journals.
Newspapers - Sources of valuable information often not found in other resources. Not only do newspapers provide accounts of current events, they also show changing trends in public opinion. Older issues of newspapers provide a record of past ideas, problems, and events.

Finding periodical articles on my topic
Look in an index - The most efficient way to locate periodical articles is to use periodical indexes. Simply put, these indexes are guides to articles that can be found in several hundred magazines or journals. Depending on which index you select, and the date of the desired article, the index might be available in electronic form or on paper. Be sure to choose an index that covers your topic. You may select from the list of electronic indexes. If you need help choosing or searching a database, see the section on Searching Indexes.
Look in the bibliography of an article or book - If you already have a good article or book on your topic, the easiest way to find additional articles is to look in the bibliography.

Making copies
The photocopy machines located in the three college libraries accept change and one dollar bills. Both photocopies and printouts cost 10 cents.

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6. USING THE CATALOG: Use the online catalog to determine whether periodicals are available at any of the RCCD libraries. Remember to search the online catalog by periodical title and type in the name of the journal, not the title of the article.

7. LOCATING GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS: Locate materials published by the U.S. Government. These sources provide various types of information and data, and can be found in government-produced reference sources, monographs, or periodicals.

8. LOCATING BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL: Locate biographical material, when appropriate, by using biographical indexes.There will be many times during your years here at Riverside Community College and later in life that you will need to find biographical information about individuals. You may wish to check the credentials of authors and scholars, find out about the past of an international or political figure in the news, or just find out more about a person or family out of pure curiosity. The Library and Learning Resource Center (LLRC) has dozens of biographical sources in the Reference area. A researcher often doesn't know which one will contain information on the person of interest. Fortunately, the index described below makes a search for biographical information quick and easy.

Biographyand Genealogy Master Index
This resource is a great time saver. It will lead you to biographical information in over 600 biographical sources, such as Who's Who in America, Dictionary of National Biography, Contemporary Authors, and American Men and Women of Science. All 3 college libraries have this resource in the Reference Section. Call# Ref Z5301 .B614 2001 I

In addition you may use the following techniques to find biographical information:
1. Look in an encyclopedia for a brief summary of the person's life.
2. Do a subject search in the LAMP Online Catalog to find entire books written about him or her.
3. Look in electronic resources to find articles about the individual. Click on: BiographiesPlus Illustrated; AccessScience; or, Landmark Documents in American History.

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9. LOCATING STATISTICAL MATERIAL: Locate statistical resources when appropriate, to provide statistics on your topic. Statistics are a valuable kind of information in research because they can provide data for making comparisons and determining historical trends. When you write a term paper, your argument will, in many cases, be more convincing if you can use statistics to back up what you say. The United States government is one of the largest and most important publishers of statistical information. Many of its agencies and departments have statistical divisions which regularly publish statistical abstracts and digests of basic socio-economic data about the United States. One of the best sources of statistical information published by the U.S. government is described below:

Statistical Abstract of the United States (Ref HA202 .U5) <at all 3 college libraries>
Published annually since 1878 by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract presents quantitative summary of statistics of the U. S. government as well as some private agencies. It covers social, economic, and political aspects of the country such as population, vital statistics, immigration, education, labor, and transportation. Statistics given in the tables cover a period of several years, usually about 15 or 20. To find if a particular subject is covered in Statistical Abstract, use the detailed index in the back of the book.

10. SEARCHING THE INTERNET: When searching the internet, be sure to keep a copy of what you find if you refer to it or cite it; it might not be there when its existence must be verified! 

11. EVALUATING RESOURCES: Evaluate all sources (See Evaluating Resources) carefully, especially information you find on the Internet. This strategy should help as you begin doing library research. You may not always need to consult all of the above types of resources for every project or paper you write. It is important, however, to keep the variety of resources available in mind.

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