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Doing Research: Intro

Intro

Introduction

This website  has been produced to support the Historical Methods Classes at Rowan University. Tabs above will present various resources and other useful tools to help you find, evaluate, and organize materials you need for your research.  

We recommend that you spend some time on this page and review the information below. There you will find useful information about setting up Refworks, evaluation Web materials, and more.   

For additional assistance please contact the Library's History Liaison--contact info under the Site Info tab, above--or contact one of the librarians at Campbell Library.

Library of Congress Subjects

The Library of Congress Classification

Boolean operators, Wildcards, Truncation

STARTING POINTS

Wildcards and Truncation symbols have magical properties that will make you searches lest confusing and more effective. 

The first step is to  check the database you want to use to see what terms will work.  For example, in Ebsco databases, find and click on the "help" link, usually top right and click.  In the long list of help topics that appears, scroll to, click on the phrase:Truncation and Wildcards. It will present a description of what each symbol does. 

In Ebsco, thee are several: ?  #  and  *


WILDCARDS

The ? symbol replaces one letter with another letter.  So, for example to search for the word woman OR women, simply type wom?n.  Another example: dramatize OR dramatise, use the  ?:  dramati?e  

The # symbol indicates where a letter might be present. For example Colo#r will return the American spelling, Color OR the world spelling, Colour.   Note, with the symbolanother letter can be present, or not.  If you used the symbol, rather than the #, only colour would be returned. 


TRUNCATION 

The * (shift-8 on your keyboard) is the most magical of all. It represents any number of letters, from none to many.

For eample, it can be used between letters.  Search f*z  and the database returns the following words: fez, fizz, fritz, frizz, fuzz.

OR, It can be used at the end of a series of letters. For example, geograph* will return geographic, geography, geographer, geographical.

It can even be used between words. For example, The * Revolution will return: The American Revolution,  The Green Revolution,  The French Revolution,  The Quiet Revolution, etc.

There are some others. Check the Help link on the databases to learn about them and how they work.  


Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are used in most databases and in Google, although they have a slight variation there. See the Google YouTube tutorials un the the separate tab to learn more.   There are three operators:  OR | AND | NOT.

In this example using a Venn diagram, the Letters A and B represent different concepts, which you search in a database. Circle A represents all the records that mention Concept A. The same for Concept B, but the other circle, of course. 

OR: Think OR is MORE.  A Search for A OR B find records with only A records with only B and some records with both mentioned. All records in both Circle would be returned by the database search.

AND: is represented in the middle. AND mean both so only records with both are returned. Only AB would be returned.

NOT: is not represented in the diagram, but say you want articles about WASHINGTON (A) and STATE (B). The result would be A+B. However, A could be Washington, DC; Washington State; George Washington; George Washington Carver; and others.  Using NOT GeorgeNOT DC  eliminates the unwanted Washington records. 


See the YouTube video below for an online explanation. Short! Clear! Perfect!

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Google Tips and Tools

Google Links

Simple search tips

Filter and refine results

Evaluating Web Content

Elaluating Web Content

A Critical View of Website Content

You want to use scholarly materials when doing your research. But how to be sure? Traditionally, scholarly materials have employed “peer-review” procedures for scholarly journal articles and of editorial oversight for the publishing of books. Websites, however, generally do not undergo such reviews, so how can one be sure of the legitimacy and quality of the content one finds online?    

One can find on the Internet many version of evaluation checklists to help you determine if a website of interest meets academic standards. A Google search of the terms “Evaluating Websites” or similar will return a list of hundreds but all have similar characteristics. These include the following.

AUDIENCE

Is the site aimed at a general audience, students, or experts?  Is the language technical or Scholarly?  Check links and reference to help determine the level of the material.
 

AUTHORITY / CREDIBILITY / PURPOSE

Can you determine the author or organization responsible for the content?  Is there identifiable information about the author or organization?  Does the page include references or bibliographic Information?  Does the author have claims to authority on a topic, based on his education, credentials, and other publications that are listed on the site or which can be found by conducting searches.

Is there a tab or link about the site’s owner?  Is it a known institution or organization?  Can you find independent information about the author or organization? Is the organization related to your subject or topic? 
 

CURRENCY

Currency is more important for some subject areas than it is for others. Notwithstanding that fact, has the site in question been updated recently?  Is the content current for the subject? For example facts about recent topics – say, for example, the federal election process—can change from day to day.  Are the links on the page up today? Are many broken? This could indicate a site which is not maintained.

Look to see if the website contain an extension such as: ‘.edu’  ‘.org‘  ‘.gov’  ‘.int.’   Not having one of these extension does not disqualify a site but these do indicate the source type.  Many sites present information of interest only to provide a sales pitch for a product. Some sites claim “fair and balanced reporting” but provide only opinion heavily slanted by a political or corporate agenda.

Keeping a critical eye as you review material presented on line, informed by items such as those listed above will help ensure you maintain a high level of information literacy.



Listed are a few links to the so-called CRAAP text and other versions that discuss the need for evaluating resources. 

Refworks

Refworks

RefWorks is a web-based reference management application. The Library subscribes to RefWorks and makes it freely available to all students and faculty.  On the Library website, under Quick Links,  click on RefWorks. You must go through the library so it knows you are a member of the Rowan community. 

It takes about 90 seconds to set up you account.   The page looks like this picture. Click on this image of Refworks to go to the library website. From there click on Refworks, found under Quick Links


 

LEARN TO USE REFWORKS

Learn to use RefWorks with these great Videos on YouTube. If you are new, start with number I.  An ckeck back for reminders when you need them.

I. Learn to Use RefWorks in 20 Minutes

9 videos in 20 minutes will ensure you know how to take full advantage of RefWork's Capabilites

II. RefWorks Fundamentals

5 Videos cover the basics in more depth

III. RefWorks Advanced

6 videos cover the advanced features of RefWorks

IV. Sharing Your RefWorks References

6 videos cover enhancements that were made in 2013 

V. RefWorks Output Style Editor

5 videos cover aspects of the Output Style Editor

Book Reviews

Guide Info

Terms of Use, Contact, and Guide Info.

The Library Guide is hosted on the Springshare LibGuides Portal, to which Rowan University Libraries subscribes, and it is maintained by Bruce Whitham.  Please send comments, suggestions, corrections to Bruce Whitham via email.

Rowan University makes no claim to freely available websites nor does it accept responsibility for the information or opinions expressed by those who have created or authored the content or by those who are quoted on the sites.

The use of this guide infers acceptance of the Terms of Use, spelled out on the Rowan University Libraries site. If you do not agree to abide by these terms you are required to leave the site.  


Contact Information

Bruce Whitham, Research & Instruction Services.  Tel: 856-256-4979.  Email: whitham@rowan.edu