The answers to these four questions will help define your research project or topic:
When searching for information on your topic, it is a good idea to take time to develop a search strategy. Such a strategy will not only save you time in the long run, but it will go a long way toward ensuring that you retrieve everything that is pertinent to your research topic.
• Create a search statement using keywords or main concepts
• Use databases to find literature on your topic. Checking more than one database can be very useful to pick up unique titles
• Use keywords and controlled language (i.e., subject headings) when searching
• Use Boolean searching (i.e., combine your terms with AND, OR, NOT to broaden or narrow your results)
• Change approaches as necessary – gathering information is not a linear process
• Continue to identify applicable keywords and controlled vocabulary to go back and check in the selected database(s) and other resources
Another good way to discover sources relevant to your research question or topic is to check the citations and bibliographies in books, articles, and dissertations related to your project. Whether citations appear as endnotes or footnotes, they can be very helpful in leading you to primary sources found in archives, as publications, on microfilm, and online.
Bibliographies in books and dissertations often separate out lists of the primary or archival sources consulted, and if you are lucky, you might find a bibliographic essay at the end of a book or dissertation that not only identifies primary source materials but also describes the type and quality of information they contain.
TIP: Use Bibliographies
Read the background information and note any useful sources (books, journal, etc.) listed in the bibliography at the end of the encyclopedia article or dictionary entry. The sources cited in the bibliography are good starting points for further research
Look up these sources in the catalog and databases. Check the subject heading listed in the subject field of the record for these books and articles. Then do subject searches using those subject headings to locate additional titles.
Remember that many of the books and articles you find will themselves have bibliographies. Check these for addtional useful resources for your search.
By using this technique of routinely following up on sources cited in bibliographies, you can generate a surprisingly large number of books and articles on your topic in a relatively short time.