• Topic Selection. Selecting a topic can be the most difficult part of the entire research process, but it’s the most crucial. Broad topics can be broken down into smaller components so that they’re easier to work with. An excellent tool to use to narrow a topic is an encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, or an online encyclopedia such as Wikipedia. Articles in encyclopedias also will often give you an excellent overview of a topic, as will a bibliography with references to additional information. Pick a topic that is of interest to you! If you have been assigned a topic, select something about that topic that interests you.
• Your Search Terms. Once you’ve defined your topic, pick out the key concepts related to your topic, usually three or four main ideas. Once you’ve defined the concepts, you’ll need to identify synonyms for the terms. Using a thesaurus will help you find alternative words for your topic. Once you’ve completed this task, you have the keywords to use as your search terms in the library catalog, in article databases, and in any web-based resources you might choose to search. Be flexible, and remember that if the first search terms you use don’t give you the desired results, try others, or ask a librarian or your instructor for help.
• Locating Materials.
a. Books: You can find books on the shelf on your topic in the Campus Library, the Egan Library, or at your local library through their library catalogs. If you live outside of Ketchikan, we will help you locate appropriate books on our shelves and mail them to you. Just give us a call, drop an email or click on the Chat link on the lower left side of our web page, and let us know what you need.
b. Electronic Books: From the Campus Library's top page under the heading "Find Books", click on Electronic Books. Search in the EBSCOHost e-book collection and others listed to find electronic books on your topic available to you as a UAS student. You may be required to enter your UA login and username if searching from off-campus. The following Research Guide will provide you will additional help on using the electronic book databases: ebooks at UAS Libraries.
c. Full-text Journal Articles: From the UAS Ketchikan Campus Library website, link on Database Vendors, and from there to one of the article databases recommended on the Find Articles tab above. Sometimes magazines and journals provide the only useful and timely information on very narrow or very current topics, such as medicine and technology. (See the Find Articles tab above for more information on journal article databases.)
d. Websites: Websites can often provide a very quick source of information but can often lack depth, authority and accuracy. However, they require a much higher level of evaluation than journal articles found through the databases on the Library’s website. Please see the Explore Websites tab above.
e. Other: Keep in mind that libraries also have DVDs, newspapers, maps, government documents, atlases, and other resources that might be useful for your research. In addition, sometimes an interview or a phone call might provide the best resource for your research project. Contact the UAS Ketchikan Campus Library for any assistance you might need.
• Evaluation: Evaluate your sources carefully for credibility, relevance, quality, and possible bias.
• Synthesizing: The final step is to determine how your pieces of your research fit together and to present them cohesively in your paper, presentation, or speech.
On-campus student? E-Learning student? – UAS libraries provides many online resources for the convenience of all students. As you use this guide, you'll notice that it includes information about searching and finding both print and online resources. All students have access to our electronic resources. You will need your UA username and password to access our e-resources, like eBooks and the full text of articles online. If you need to retrieve or reset your UA username and password, visit ELMO.