The research process can seem daunting when you are not familiar with it. It involves exploration and analysis using a variety of tools and often requires you to revise some of your work. Research normally involves using resources that you can access only with your UMass Global sign-on through the library's paid subscriptions, in addition to using some free resources. This process is time-consuming, is not linear, and will engage your critical thinking skills. There are no perfect sources for any assignment. When starting a new research project, you should allow plenty of time to learn the library's resources, meet with a librarian, analyze the material you find, and build in time for revision. This guide will help you develop a starting strategy for conducting research.
To prepare for a research project, you should have an idea of the topic you want to explore. At the beginning of the research process, you don't need the topic to be too specific, but more detail can improve your search results. Along with your general topic idea, you should make a list of all of the people, places, events, dates, and terms associated with it. You will use these words to search library databases.
You will need your UMass Global username and password in order to use many of the library's resources, which cannot be accessed for free anywhere but through the library's website. This is the same login information used for your UMass Global email account.
You can get started with your research by doing some preliminary searching using the library's Global Search tool. However, to make your research more precise and effective, you should also learn to do the following:
You might find it useful to discuss your project with a librarian before you begin. A librarian can help you narrow your list of search terms, point you to the best resources for your work, and suggest some steps you can take to find the material you need quickly. You can schedule an appointment on the UMass Global Library's Ask a Librarian page.
In general, your plan should include:
The links on this page will help you learn these skills.
If you are reasonably familiar with the research process, are just exploring possibilities, or just want to get acquainted with library resources, you can get started by doing the following:
As you research, be sure to save your work. You'll want to keep track of your search strategy and which database tools you used, and save copies of book chapters and articles you find, even if you think they might not be immediately useful. It can be quite frustrating to forget the titles of items you found, or where and how you found them.
Keep a Research Journal
Keeping a research journal can help you remember what strategies you used to find research material. This ensures that you don't have to recreate your work unnecessarily. In addition, it can help you avoid plagiarism since you will know exactly where all of your ideas come from.
A research journal can look however you want it to. You can keep your journal in a paper notebook, a Word document or Google Doc, on a blog, or using a note taking feature on your mobile device. Some elements that ae helpful to include are:
How to Save Research Material
As you locate book chapters and articles that you want to read, be sure to save pdf copies of them. You can save them to a personal device or organize them using a resource management tool such as Zotero.
In addition, many databases allow you to create a free account so that you can keep track of your search strategies and add articles to a folder that can be emailed, printed, or saved. Look for a "Sign In" option to create your account. (All examples are illustrated using databases provided by EBSCO.)
Once you create an account, you can save your searches or the material you find.
To save your search so that you can recreate it later (using an EBSCO database):
Click image to enlarge.
To save individual articles and books, simply click on the folder icon next to each title:
Click image to enlarge.