You are probably already skilled at skimming encyclopedias to get started--a good basic skill.
But the more advanced researcher mines the full article. Watch the video below to learn more.
OneSearch and our own book collection is usually sufficient for first-year courses. For history courses, using WorldCat for finding and borrowing from libraries around the world will be essential.
FastTRAC is a specialized way of borrowing books from a network of regional libraries--the chief advantage is that you get the item for 90 days! When borrowing through WorldCat, the lending periods can vary widely.
Knowing how to incorporate subject terms give you more control over your searching. Subject Terms are part of the controlled vocabulary used to organize information in cataloging library item records.
You may have heard of "impact factor" as a way to determine the quality of a publication. While impact factor can provide a sense of how well-known and well-respected a publication is, it doesn't tell the whole story--largely because of what is called the long tail of publishing.
The impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year, taken from a two-year period. Journals with articles that get cited frequently have high impact factors and are often accorded more prestige, with the implication being that the best and most important research is sought after by other researchers for engagement.
Long Tail of Publishing
This graph is based on books, but the same is true of scholarly journals--the most well-known garner the highest sales, while smaller, less-well-known journals have very small circulation and thus low impact--even when they may be high-quality or contain important research. On the other hand, some publications are fringe for a reason. Keep this in mind as you make your selections.
Image taken from Brynjolfsson, Hu and Smith (2006): “From Niches to Riches: Anatomy of the Long Tail.”
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