Access to quality information begins with good research skills. After you have developed your research question or topic, knowing where to go to identify the information and data you need is key.
For this class we are going to concentrate on the research tools that are online, both through the NDSU Libraries and the Internet. However, some of the best tools and information are still not available electronically. It is best to check at the Libraries if you need additional print tools and materials.
Databases, for our purposes, are electronic collections of information or data. The information can be searched and retrieved.
Information for Education Majors is located in one handy guide: Education LibGuide
- The NDSU Libraries Online Catalog is a database of the materials owned by NDSU, some in print and some electronic.
- The Libraries subscribe to article databases, such as the EBSCO databases, Education Index, and ERIC. These resource tools provide us with information to identify what is in the periodical literature.
- A database is an index if it only includes the citation information (the information you need to do a bibliography or to locate the information elsewhere).
- Other databases will provide you with full text or the full article as well as the citation information.
- Many databases fall somewhere in between. They might have some articles in full and for others only the citation information is provided.
- Internet research tools such as Google are databases as well and provide access to a wealth of information. Anyone can, and does publish on the Internet. The information you find may be good or bad, depending on your information need.
The above databases seem very different, but they have a few key things in common. You can do a basic search in any database once you:
- Locate the help screens, search tips, etc. (The names of these pages differ).
- Within the help screens, find out how to combine search terms (words you type in).
- (Optional but very useful) Within the help screens, find out if the search terms can be truncated (a root word plus a symbol to stand for word endings, i.e. clon* would search for clone, clones, cloned, cloning in one search).
It is important to do this when searching the Internet as well as the Libraries’ databases, but different Internet search tools provide different options, so know your search tool!
Selecting the appropriate search tool and learning how to use it:
- Internet Searching Tools - Southern Oregon University – Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library
- Best Tools Chart - Infopeople
- How to Choose a Search Tool – from Internet Tutorials by Laura B Cohen, a retired academic librarian from SUNY-Albany
- Four NETS for Better Searching – from Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators
Google Web Search Help Center – Checkout the Tips for Searching links under How to, or explore the Features link in the top toolbar.
Help is Available!
As always, the Libraries Staff is available to help! Leave a comment, use the Reference Instant Messaging service on our home page, stop at the Reference Desk or in one of the branches, or give us a call (231-8886)!