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Researching and Citing

This guide provides assistance in finding, evaluating, and citing sources to use in research.

Researching

clipart of student researcherResearching isn't complicated, but it can take some time to do it the right way.  Researching requires you to think about a few things before you start:


1)  What exactly is my topic?
    Writing down what it is you want to write about in one succinct sentence gives you some keywords to use in your search.
2)  What types of resources do I need?  
    A. Journal articles? Do you want journal articles or books, book chapters, videos, newspaper or magazine articles?
    B. Academic/scholarly?  Do you want articles that summarize research and are written by a expert/researcher?
    C. Peer-reviewed?  Do you want articles describing research findings that have been reviewed by many experts to make sure it is quality research?

Use Discover@Hinds

With these things decided, the next thing you need to do is your search.  Instead of a search on Google, try searching Discover@Hinds on the library's home page.  Discover@Hinds is like Google except that it is searching millions of dollars worth of journals, books, videos and newspapers purchased by Hinds Libraries and the state of Mississippi (your tax dollars).  Most of this would not be available freely on Google plus Google would have tons of websites, blogs and other resources that probably wouldn't be suitable for serious research.  To use Discover@Hinds, type 2 or 3 of the keywords from your topic sentence into the search box.  Once you get a list of results, use the limiters on the left side of the page to limit to academic, peer-reviewed, etc.

Evaluate Your Sources Before Deciding

From your new list of results, read several abstracts (summaries) before deciding which you will use.  The summaries can be found by clicking on the title of the article.  Keep an open mind as you read.  If a research article doesn't 'jive' with what you were expecting, don't dismiss it out of hand.  Check a few things to see if it is reliable:

  •     Is the journal academic/professional?  Is the article in Southern Living or is it in something more academic like New England Journal of Medicine?
  •      Who are the authors and what is their qualifications?  Are they experts in their field?  For instance, is a person writing about diabetes a doctor or nurse or are they a writer from a pharmaceutical company trying to sell you something?  Is a person writing about social injustice a Sociologist or are they writing on behalf of the National Rifle Association? The actual article should provide you with the author's expertise and credentials.
  •     Have the authors done other research in this area?  (in the abstract part of the record, you can click on an author's name to see other articles they have authored)
  •     Does the research article have a bibliography/list of resources the authors used to help do their research?  Take a look at the list of articles - did the authors use legitimate academic/professional resources to support their paper.
  • If you are using a Research/Peer-reviewed article, it will usually follow a specific scientific format and have the following sections: 

    1) Introduction and Literature review
    2) Methodology
    3) Results
    4) Discussion
    5) Conclusion and what further research is still needed as a result

For more resources on researching and evaluating sources, see our "Evaluating Sources" section.

Online Resources

For a collection of quality online resources arranged by topic, please visit our Online Resources Lib Guide.

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