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UMass Amherst Libraries

University Without Walls

This guide introduces UWW students to research skills.

Tips and Tricks of Searching

How to Start?

Choose a topic that:

         concisely addresses the topic assigned
                  (you want to make sure that you don't drift too far from the assignment)

         can be addressed within a reasonable length 
                  (you don't want to choose a topic that takes 300 pages to fully explore)

         that you are interested in
                  (there is nothing worse than research that is not interesting to the researcher)

         that raises questions 
                  (if it doesn't raise questions, it isn't worth researching) 


How to start researching:

         first think generally about what your are interested in researching
               
(interested in business? Then what part (Marketing, Finance, Accounting?)
               (or cars? Selling them? Designing them? Engineering them? Fixing them?)

         read general background infomation about your area of interest
              
 (this is where library databases like CQ Researcher or even Wikipedia can help).

        Start to hone in on what you want to research
              
 (start writing down search terms that strike you)
               (search terms are one or two word descriptions that describe your topic)

         Start plugging search terms into the databases
             
  (a good starting point is Google Scholar
               (enter above to get access to UMass subscription articles) 

         Read the Abstracts to find which articles best relate to your topic
         
      (an abstract is a short summary at the beginning of the article)
               (save the articles that seem most relevant)

         Be Flexible
            
  (topics often change and narrow during the research process).

         Create a focused research question
              
 (What question are you trying to answer through your research).

         Read and research further on your topic
               (read the full articles that you saved from above).

         Be sure to hold onto your articles so that you can use them for citations.
               
(any work that is quoted or paraphrased must have a citation to its source)