If your keyword searches in databases are not yielding the results you need, try finding a Library of Congress subject heading to use in place of the keyword: substituting a LC subject heading might just get you the exact sources you need. In the Library of Congress Authorities database, search by the keyword you have been using; then substitute the suggested LC subject heading(s) into your database search. The new subject heading may produce more useful and specific search results.
Starting Your Research
The steps below will help you complete your paper or assignment. Ask a librarian for help at any point in the process. A librarian is at the reference desk any hour the library is open. You can also log onto NCKnows from our web page or the opening page of NCLive. There you can instant message with a librarian 24 hours a day.
Choose a topic. Get ideas from your class discussions and lectures, reading assignments, your interests or life experiences. Get background information from your textbook, a general encyclopedia or a special encyclopedia.
Create a search strategy. Formulate a research question or thesis statement about the topic you want to research. Identify the main ideas in your question or statement. Think of other terms or synonyms. Use those terms with the terms and, or or not to focus in on what you need to find. And connects words that are different, or connects synonyms and not rejects words or concepts. For more information, use our Boolean Searching Guide.
Find information. Search the Online Public Access Catalog for books from our library. Use NCLive, especially EbscoHost and NetLibrary to find articles and electronic books on your topic. Choose appropriate databases for your topic.
Evaluate the information. Consider if the material is accurate and correct, if the author is expert and trustworthy, if the audience it is written for is appropriate, if it is objectively written and if it is current or too old. Use our guide on Evaluating Web Site Content if you go to the general Web for information.
Cite your sources. Collect the information necessary to cite your sources when you get to the point of writing your paper.