The key to research is in the word itself: literally, to re-search something. A single search is never enough. Rather, the first search is like the first draft in a short story or painting or dance. You will build on it by revising and practicing.
In this guide, we will focus on step #3, the literal re-searching (and re-re-searching) that gives us a better chance of finding the best resources for our question.
In the library world, we often refer to the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) framework for information literacy. A key part of the framework is “Searching as Strategic Exploration” which is described in this way: “Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops” (ACRL)
In other words, research is a kind of exploration. If you plan to explore a city you’ve never been, part of your adventure will include some strategy: finding the best way to get there, where to eat, where to stay. Approaching your exploration of the city in a strategic way will maximize the fun you are able to extract from your adventure.
Let’s take a look at how this works in practice, five easy pieces:
Now that we know the five easy pieces, let’s go into three important tips and tricks of the trade:
In the same way that Gandalf knew where to go to begin looking for the information he needed, we also start our information quests at those places where we are most likely to find good results. In this case, library databases.
Now, it’s time for you to go exploring!