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Online Tutorials and Training: Research Tips

Use these online resources to learn more about specific subjects, gain greater searching expertise, and discover new tools and software.

Helpful Guides

The Research Process

Steps for locating information for a research paper/project:

  1. Select a topic of interest and then state your topic as a question
  2. Identify the key concepts and words that describe your question
  3. Locate and retrieve information sources that support the topic question; this includes using library catalogs to locate reference books, encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks, statistics, videos, and other media
  4. Use online databases to find journal articles, newspapers, statistics, and other kinds of supporting materials
  5. Find Internet resources; this may include government documents, images, graphs, data, maps and more
  6. Evaluate what you find; take detailed notes; summarize and quote source material accurately
  7. Cite your sources of information accurately
    • Use a bibliographic management program such as EndNote to organize materials and write your paper with properly formatted citations

Searching Tips

When searching within a literature database (e.g. PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus), try using these five search terms and symbols:

  • AND
    • Includes both keywords/concepts
    • Narrows search
    • Example: evidence-based practice AND education
  • OR
    • Either keyword/concept may be present
    • Combine synonyms and similar concepts
    • Expands search
    • Example: tennis elbow OR lateral epicondylitis
  • ( )
    • Groups keywords/concepts together
    • Similar to algebra's use of parentheses - forces a specific order
    • Example: (drug OR prescription) AND overdose
  • *
    • Includes word ending variants
    • Expands search
    • Example: nurs* = nurse, nurses, nursing, etc.
  • " "
    • Forces keywords/concepts to be a phrase
    • Example: "rock climber"

There are other search terms and symbols available, but these are the top five you should know. Schedule an appointment with a librarian to delve deeper!

Evaluating Web Content

When searching the Web, it is important to determine if information presented is accurate and reliable. The CRAAP test is a list of criteria that can be applied to determine if the information on a site is reliable.

  • Currency: the timeliness of the web page
  • Relevance/Coverage: the uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.
  • Authority: the source of the web page
  • Accuracy: reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the informational content.
  • Purpose: presence of bias or prejudice; the reason the site exists.

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