Learn from Our Mistakes

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your research assignment? As librarians we help USI students with their research daily, but we all remember what it was like to do research and definitely remember our own shortcomings when it comes to research. Here is our advice for doing the best possible research while you’re at USI and after you graduate. wordle

Tip #1 from Phil Orr: Over the years one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with research is selecting a topic that is too broad.  Learn to narrow your research topic to a manageable size and yet one that fits the requirements of the assignment

Tip #2 from Ashley Clark: As an undergraduate, I would start my search process too soon. I would have my topic but I wouldn’t determine what I wanted to learn about it before I started researching. My advice is to have a Research Game Plan and figure out what you want to know and what kind of information you need to find to answer your research question BEFORE you begin searching the databases or catalog.

Tip #3 from Brad Reel: Keep an eye out for potential search terms/keywords all throughout your research process.  Create a running list of keywords for each major concept of your research topic.  Be prepared to try different keywords and/or combinations of keywords to generate new (better) search results.  Good places to look for search terms include subject headings, author-provided keywords, tables of contents, article abstracts, and book/article titles.

Tip #4 from Jennifer Greene: Write about things that mean something to you.  If the topic interests you, then it will be a better paper.

Tip #5 from Joanne Artz: Not all sources are equally suitable for your work, so make smart choices. Learning to evaluate information is a skill good for college and life!

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