The research process
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The Research Process. Introduction to the Primary and Secondary literature. Module #3 FYC Fall 2009 A.Singh , MLS. Pulling it all together. The main points of the first two modules of the course are: Human knowledge and experiences are organized.

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The Research Process

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The research process

The Research Process

Introduction to the Primary and Secondary literature

Module #3


Fall 2009

A.Singh, MLS

Pulling it all together

Pulling it all together

  • The main points of the first two modules of the course are:

    • Human knowledge and experiences are organized.

    • Controlled vocabularies organize human knowledge and experience.

      • The podcasts you listened to for the first two assignments and the responses you were asked to provide demonstrated how controlled vocabularies organize our personal experiences (A Little Bit of Knowledge) as well as our experiences as members of the global society (Giant Pool of Money).

A.Singh, MLS

Controlled vocabularies

Controlled Vocabularies

  • You watched the short video about the information life cycle and were asked to seek out news articles about the economic crisis as well as surveys.

  • Let’s apply the information life cycle to the global economic crisis to see where things stand:

    • If you had been asked to find magazine and trade articles on the topic, you would have located roughly 632 (Business & Company Resource Center).

    • A search for scholarly articles would have gotten you 235 choices (Based on searches in the databases EconLit & Business Source Premier using the following criteria: peer-reviewed; English-language only; published 2008-2009)

    • A search for English-language books published between 2008-2009 on the subject “Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009,” in the WorldCat catalog yielded 225 items.

A.Singh, MLS

Pulling it all together1

Pulling it all together

  • This may seem like a lot of information and I will concede these literature searches are not comprehensive. But I am willing to bet that this is just the very tip of the information iceberg that will continue to grow and expand on this event. While these items capture the immediate fall out of this calamity, works of greater depth and analysis will be forthcoming for years.

  • As a comparison, consider the fact that from 2000-2005, two hundred and eleven English-language books were published about the economic aspects of the Great Depression, an event that occurred 80 years ago. It is still a compelling topic for publication and given recent economic events, it will continue to be so for years to come.

A.Singh, MLS

Module 3 the research process

Module #3: The Research Process

  • In this module, we will address the research process.

  • You have an awareness of the information life cycle. The timeliness of your topic and it’s place in the information life cycle will determine the type (primary, secondary, scholarly), format (article; book), and amount of information you will find.

    • You understand the concept of controlled vocabularies. You will be using your natural language to gain rudimentary access to information and as your knowledge of the topic expands you will transition to the use of the controlled vocabulary about your topics.

    • Your assignment will be to use the online catalog to search for books in the reference collection using natural language. You will retrieve these items, provide a citation, evaluate the item according to specific criteria, and scan the title page of the item using the KIC scanner on the ground floor of the library. You will each individually e-mail the title page using the KIC.

    • How great is this?

A.Singh, MLS

So let s review bodies of knowledge

So, let’s review: Bodies of Knowledge

  • There are 3 disciplinesof knowledge:

    • Humanities

    • Sciences

    • Social Sciences

  • Each discipline has its subject fields, for example:

    • Humanities has

      • Communication

    • Sciences

      • Mathematics

    • Social Sciences has

      • Psychology

    • Each subject field has its literature

    • The literature of a subject field is the record of what is known in that subject field, the

      • Research

      • Criticism and

      • Interpretation of knowledge in that field

    • Locating information in a subject field is called doing a literature search

    • A review of the literature is a review, evaluation and/or summary of a segment of the publications in a subject field

    A.Singh, MLS

    Review the literature

    Review: The Literature

    • The literature of a field may include books which

      • are sometimes called treatises or monographs

      • can be multi-volume sets or

      • can be published in successive editions

      • All of this diverse material is organized so that it can be found. It is organized through classification systems. Classification systems are one form of controlled vocabularies.

        • A classification system is a method for organizing information into subject categories.

        • Those subject categories are called subject headings.

    A.Singh, MLS

    Review classification systems

    Review: Classification Systems

    • Some larger public libraries and most academic and research libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System (LC)

    • What does that mean?

      • Items are assigned an alpha numeric code or “call number” that serves to identify the subject matter of the material and its address on the shelf

    • There is another classification system used for government documents in the U.S. It is called the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system.

    • The LC and SuDocs systems are compared on the following slides.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process

    Classification Systems

    Here is a sample from the Library of Congress Classification System

    You’ll notice that items with the AE designations are Encyclopedias

    Items with call numbers beginning with BF are works in Psychology; L items are about education; QH is Natural History.

    Geography stands alone as one area whose call number kind of makes sense: G

    A.Singh, MLS

    Classification systems


    The Superintendent of Documents Classification system is used by the United States Government to organize its literature.

    It is far more intuitive than the Library of Congress system.

    A is for agriculture; CC for communications; LR for Labor Relations; P for publications from the Post Office and PrVP publications in the area of Vice-Presidential Studies.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process1

    The Research Process

    • The research process is indeed a process. Many students have approached research in an unstructured way which has lead to frustration and wasted time.

    • The research process is driven by three basic principles:

      • Efficiency

      • Relevance

      • Precision

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process2

    The Research Process

    • Lets review the steps of the research process. I will explain how the 3 principles play out in these steps.

      • Determine the research questions suggested by the research task and narrow the topic.

      • Identify the information necessary to research the topic/create the required research project.

      • Find the information.

      • Evaluate the information.

      • Integrate the information with your own opinions.

      • Re-read and revise as necessary.

      • Compile a list of sources that you have used.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process3

    The Research Process

    1. Determine the research questions suggested by the research task and narrow the topic.

    • This process is driven first by human communication. You will consult with your faculty member about the research task and make sure you are clear about the research task. Asking questions of your faculty and being clear about your task will make your process more efficient. Ask questions up front.

    • Consult with a librarian about where to access materials on your topic. This is the most efficient way to use the library.

    • Do not jump in blind. You will waste time and your process will be less efficient. Ask experts like faculty and librarians for directions.

    • Do not consult with peers about expectations for course requirements. Ask your faculty.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process4

    The Research Process

    2. Identify the information necessary to research the topic/create the required research project.

    • Understanding that information has a life cycle, take into consideration the time frame for your topic. Ask yourself:

      • Has this event just occurred?

        • If so, you will not need books. You will need newspaper and magazine articles.

      • Am I required to provide a history on this topic?

        • If so, you will need books and scholarly journal articles.

      • Am I required to provide current, scholarly treatment of this topic?

        • If so, you will not need books. You will need current scholarly journal articles.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process5

    The Research Process

    • Consider the nature and length of your research project. Ask yourself:

      • Do I need to create a long research paper (15+ page) ?

        • If so, you will need to consult reference tools (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.), many books, and scholarly journal articles.

      • Am I creating a short paper (5-8 pages)?

        • If so, you may need a few books and many scholarly journal articles.

      • Am I creating a presentation (8-10 minutes)?

        • If so, you may need to consult some reference tools (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.) to define your terms and gather a concise history/overview of the field. You may not need books , but you will definitely need periodical articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and/or newspapers. You may use some web sites.

  • Asking yourself these kinds of questions before you start looking for materials makes the resources you pursue most relevant to your research task. Pursuing only relevant items makes your process more efficient.

  • A.Singh, MLS

    The research process6

    The Research Process

    3. Find the information.

    • Before you begin looking in the online catalog or research databases, you must define your terms.

      1. Write your research questions. Example:

      What is medical marijuana? What are the health risks of medical marijuana? What are the health benefits of medical marijuana? Is medical marijuana legal in all states? Should it be legal?

      2. Identify the nouns and concepts in your research questions. In this case:

      • medical marijuana

      • health risks

      • health benefits

      • states

      • legal

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process7

    The Research Process

    • Now you will take these discrete terms and the core concepts of the questions and formulate a thesis statement. For example:

      Medical marijuana offers health benefits that far out weigh any health risks and therefore it should be legalized in all states.


      Medical marijuana presents health risks that far out weigh any health benefits and therefore it should not be legalized in any states.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process8

    The Research Process

    • A thesis is:

      • A statement, not a question.

      • A position. When you make your thesis statement, you present your position on a topic. The purpose of your research now becomes validating, defending and supporting your position.

    • Having clearly defined your position and identified your terms, the focus of your search will precise, your results relevant and your process efficient.

    • The research process is iterative. You will walk through the process to the point of formulating a thesis and begin to search for information. You will see what you find and then go back to and revise your research questions, reformulate your thesis and start searching with the new terms you’ve identified. And around and around it goes.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process9

    The Research Process

    4. Evaluate the information.

    • We will first consider scholarly books in the research process.

    • Whenever you are choosing a book to use for your scholarly research, you should evaluate it using the following criteria:

      • Authority:

        • What are the author(s) credentials?

        • Are they appropriately degreed?

        • Do they have the expertise to be writing on this topic?

        • What is their institutional affiliation?

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process10

    The Research Process

    • Publisher:

      • University/scholarly press, e.g., Oxford University Press

      • Research institution press, e.g., Getty Research Institute Press

      • Professional Association press, e.g., American Library Association press imprint ALA TechSource

    • Documentation:

      • Includes citations to sources

      • Includes a bibliography for further reading

    • Audience:

      • Written scholars, students & people with knowledge of the field

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process11

    The Research Process

    • Content:

      • In-depth analysis

      • Thorough overview of a topic

    • Language:

      • Conforms to standard discourse of the field

      • Arguments and supporting evidence clearly stated

      • Complex sentences; lengthy text

    • Illustrations:

      • Charts, graphs, photos, graphics, etc., are used with discretion to enhance the information and elucidate concepts and arguments

    • Appearance:

      • Mainly textual; focus on content, not appearance

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process12

    The Research Process

    • Whenever you are considering a book for use in scholarly research, you should evaluate it on these 8 criterion:

      • Authority

      • Publisher

      • Documentation

      • Audience

      • Content

      • Language

      • Illustrations

      • Appearance

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process13

    The Research Process

    • We are going to stop with the steps of the research process here.

    • The first part of you assignment is to go the and listen to author Dave Eggers talk about the weird, funny accident born of the love of writing and the book that has touched thousands of lives.

      • There may be a question about this talk on the final…


    • Then proceed to the assignment for this module.

    A.Singh, MLS

    The research process14

    The Research Process

    Introduction to the Primary and Secondary literature

    The end

    Module #3


    Fall 2009

    A.Singh, MLS

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