Keyword searching via Google or one of Milne Library’s many databases is probably the first and most heavily used method in an undergrad student’s research toolkit. Are you finding the right mix of terms and search tools to locate the most appropriate sources? Do you spend hours at a computer trying to identify and connect “like-minded” articles?
A primary method in a scholar’s research toolkit is to track down citations within a relevant source’s bibliography. It stands to reason that the research a scholar used to inform his/her work would be related to that author’s initial topic and can thus be found in the comprehensive works cited list. In other words, find one perfect article and its bibliography will lead you to many more related sources.
The trick, however, is to know how to read a citation, no matter what writing style it’s in – APA, MLA, Turabian, NLM – to know what type of source you’re dealing with (e.g. journal or newspaper article, book, book chapter, legal case) in order to then locate and get your hands on that source.
If you are confused by the various structures of the myriad citation writing styles, check out this self-paced tutorial for a complete lesson (including interactive exercises) on reading different citations.
After this lesson, you should be reading citations and locating the necessary material like a pro!