Archive for the 'Search tips' Category

Search smarter

Here is a nice blog post entitle How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques that covers suggestions from a Google employee on how to use their search engine for more targeted and precise searching. Many of these tips and tricks can be applied to your academic research! Often there is no need to search the entire web. To start, try limiting your searches to specific domains (.gov, .org, and .edu) and filetypes.

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Keepin’ it real

One of the 21st century goals for the library profession is to ensure that our patrons and the public at large are “information literate”. For those that are not familiar with the concept of information literacy, you can find a definition on the web site for Association of College and Research Libraries.

So why all the fuss about information literacy? Well, with the advent of the internet age, many of us have witnessed first hand the astronomical increase of information sources, voices, and opinions on all manner of topics. And at times, it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction among the cacophony of the internet. Further muddying the waters are deceitful practices such as electronic astroturfing, which is described by George Monbiot of the Guardian (UK) as an increasingly used tactic by corporations, government agencies, and special interest groups to influence, and in some cases, undermine public opinion.

So what does this mean to you as a student researcher? I often suggest to students that they should identify the professional society or trade association associated with the industry or occupation they are researching. A good strategy for this task is to limit your Google search to .org sites, as in this example. But in an era of electronic astroturfing, its not just enough to trust any old .org site. Students need to go one step further. In the case of electronic astroturfing, look for contact information on the web site. Is there a verifiable street address? Phone numbers that allow you to talk to real persons? How long has the association/society been in existence? Do they publish a newsletter or magazine, and if so, is the publication acknowledge as a voice of authority within the profession?

It seems the more information you find on the internet, the more you need to verify its authority, accuracy, and value!

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Online Adult Education Books

The Regis Library subscribes to several different online book collections. Every item in these online collections is cataloged in Lumen, the Regis Library catalog. The catalog link below includes search results for online books covering the following subject areas: adult students, adult learning, adult education, and continuing education.

Online books for subjects: adult students, adult learning, adult education, and continuing education

To access these books, click the link above. For any item in the list that looks interesting, click the highlighted underlined title. This will open the catalog record. Look for a link in the catalog record for the “Electronic Book”. You will need to log-in with your RegisNET account info before accesssing any of these books.

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Primary versus secondary sources

When conducting research on your topic, it is often helpful to consider the type of documents you need. One distinction to make is whether or not you need to refer to primary or secondary resources. Take a look at the following web pages from other university websites that offer good definitions for primary and secondary sources.

  1. Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources (University of Maryland).
  2. How To Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources (University of California Santa Cruz)
  3. Research Help: Primary vs. Secondary Sources (Manhattan Community College)

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Newspapers in LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis Academic is a large database, popular with many academic and public libraries, in part because it offers full text access to hundreds of local, regional, national, and international newspapers. The tutorial below describes how to search the LexisNexis database for newspaper articles.

Note: This tutorial was produced by the library at Georgia Tech. To access the LexisNexis Academic database via the Regis Library, go to the A-Z database list.

Library search plug-ins!

Hot of the press, the Regis Library Distance Learning and Electronic Services departments now offer browser plug-ins for Firefox and Internet Explorer users. The Regis Library LibX toolbar allows you to search by keyword, title, author, subject, ISSN/ISBN, or call number in Lumen (Regis Library catalog), Prospector (statewide Colorado library catalog) or Google Scholar. Want an even easier way to search the library catalog, try the search engine plug-in for Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7 instead. Both of these plug-ins allow you to search the library direct from you browser, without opening the library catalog in a new tab or window. Quick, easy, and convenient. And all for you!

Click here to get the plug-ins

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Subject searching and you!

One of the primary differences between searching the Web using Google and searching the library databases is the ability to perform a subject search. When you search Google, you are performing a keyword search. Your search terms can appear anywhere in your results.

In contrast, most of the library databases allow you to search by subject. This is because someone at the database examines each article and identifies the subjects it covers. Subject headings (sometimes called descriptors, or more generically tags) are applied to each article and can be viewed in the database record for each item.

So when you search the library databases (1) determine if the database indexes materials by subject (2) identify the subject headings or descriptors used by the database for your topic (3) perform a subject search using the appropriate subject terms and phrases. This require a bit more work and investment at the beginning of your search. However, the payoff is a much more precise search with results that are highly relevant to your topic. Take a look at the subject searching tutorial to discover strategies for identifying the subject headings you should be using in your searches!

Compare this search method with a web search using Google. More often than not with Google you get hundreds of thousand of results, and then have to sort through all those results to identify relevant items. You might be inclined to just go with the first few results you get, but is that really what you want to do for an academic paper? Remember, as a student at Regis you are responsible for learning the content of your course, but you also should take the initiative to learn about new search tools and information resources. You already know about Google, so why not explore Business Source Premier, America History and Life, PsycINFO, and more!

In addition, web search engines will often direct you popular resources like Wikipedia or About.com. These websites do have value, but they are not academic or scholarly, and should not be relied upon to perform scholarly research. Instead, look to the library databases which provide you with a focused collection of scholarly peer reviewed journals and trade publications.

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