Friday, July 6, 2007

Cornell--Great Steps and Links for the Research Process

Today I am once again amazed. You probably would never guess this about me but I love the internet! I can find anything I want, need, or could only dream of finding and I do mean anything. Today is one of those days. I'm not really sure how I got to the Cornell page because I began by looking for a simple solution for adding widgets to this blog. I am still looking for that by the way, but I did find this absolutely wonderful page from Cornell's Olin & Uris Library and thought it would go great for this blog. The link is in the left sidebar of this page. If you are just beginning to do your research or if you are lost trying to research it is a great read.

Step One: Identify and Develop a Research Topic
This page has links for identifying your topic, suggestions for finding your topic, identifying keywords for your search and how to test your topic. Clicking on "suggestions for finding your topic" link will lead you to links for CQ Researcher online where you can find Issues and Controversies on file, Taking Sides, and Editorials on File within Cornell. there is also a link for Keesinger's Record of World Events Online but you have to have a Cornell id to use it. :-( There is also a link for "Subject Guides" which will lead you to internet links researched and accepted by Olin & Uris Reference Staff. Great Stuff! I could spend days telling you about that page alone, but, go on...check it out for yourself :-)

Step Two: Find Background Information
This page will link you to the university library page where you might check out the library to library loan program. It also has a link for the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. There is also the suggestion that you take the bibliographies of what you have found and exploit...explore the writers found there. It took me a couple of years before i figured that out :-) I've always been one to want to do it the hard way :-).

Step Three: Use Catalogs to Find Books and Media
Step Four: Use Indexes to find Periodical Articles

Steps Three and Four are pretty much extensions of Step Two except Step Four has a page to help you distinguish between the four types of articles: Scholarly, Substantive News/General Interest, Popular and Sensational. If you need that then it's an informative read. there is also a link for a guide to newspaper indexes and full-text newspaper databases which i thought was really cool.

I will be back later to finish up with Steps Five, Six and Seven....
OK, I'm back with my favorite :-)

Step Five: Find Internet Resources
This section includes some of the most interesting links I have found to date. I wish I had found these before I started my second college career. The most thorough introduction to internet search is posted here via the UC @ Berkeley Library tutorial. This tutorial's table of contents is enlightenment in itself. The first being: Analyze your topic and search with peripheral vision. There are recommended search strategies which include search engines, "Googling to the Max", Boolean searching, Meta-search engines and invisible search. Invisible search is what you cannot retrieve "see" in search results, most of which is made up of thousands of specialized searchable databases. Again I could go on here for days but you can click for yourself so I won't insult your intelligence by doing so. Clicking the subject directories link will send you to the page with the top 6 searchable subject databases.
The second teaches you how to evaluate web pages skillfully. For instance: 1) What can the URL tell you? Is it someone's personal page? What type of domain does it come from? (educational, nonprofit, government, commercial, etc.) Is it published by an entity that makes sense? Have you heard of this entity before? Does it correspond with the name of the site? Should it? 2) Scan the perimeter of the page looking for answers to these questions. Who wrote the page? Is the page dated? Is it current? What are the author's credentials on this subject? 3) Look for indicators of quality information. Are the sources documented with footnotes or links? If reproduced information, is it complete, unaltered, fake of forged? Are there links to other resources on the topic? Are the links well chosen, well organized and/or evaluated, annotated? Do the links work? Do the links represent other viewpoints? do the links or absence of other viewpoints indicate bias? 4) What do others say? find out what other web pages link to the page by using alexa. there are instructions on how to do this on this page. Who links to the page? Is the link listed on one or more reputable directories or pages? What do others say about the author or authoring body? 5) Does it all add up? step back and think about all that you have learned from the page. Listen to your gut reaction. Be sensitive to the possibility that you are the victim of irony, spoof, fraud or other falsehood. Why was the page put on the web? Might it be ironic, satire or parody? Is this information as good as I could find if I used the library, web-based indexes available through the library or other print resources? There are also website evaluation checklist forms on this page.
The third link will take you to a page about citing your sources and will provide you with links to style guides in pdf form for APA, MLA, Chicago-Turibain and other official style manuals offered in UC Berkeley's library.
The fourth link is a list /glossery of internet terms and web jargon. The fifth links you to a list of handouts and power point presentations on searching...great stuff!

Step Six: Evaluate What You Find
This step provides you with an invaluable tool for evaluating "hard copy" sources.

Step Seven: Cite What You Find Using a Standard Format
This step provides a guide to citation tools and styles

Ok, that's it for today. Whew! :-)


  1. Hi Denise,
    Very good info here, nice and simple. Keep it up.