Identify a Topic
An idea for a topic should always be
discussed with your instructor.A topic can be viewed much like the scientific
method in which a new perspective is developed or knowledge is added. This is
generally considered to include 1) definition of a problem to be investigated,
2) collection of initial data, 3) use of data to form a theory or hypothesis
explaining the problem 4) further collection of data to verify or modify the
hypothesis through observation or experiment, 5) testing the data, and 6)
interpreting the results to determine how it relates to the initial problem.
Visit Library for Background Information
Discuss your topic with a reference
librarian for suggestions on locating relevant sources of information.
Locate encyclopedias, dictionaries
and other general sources for background information.A reference librarian can
help you identify main concepts or keywords on your topic to use in several
online catalogs and databases.
Locating Books in TSU’s Online
system can be searched by several access points including Author, Title,
Subject. For Subject searching use keywords to narrow your topic. When you
produce a list of available books they will be designated with certain location
codes called call numbers. TSU Library uses the Library of Congress
Classification scheme A - Z and may be found in Circulation, Reference, Special
Collections, Reserves, or located at the Avon N. Williams Campus.Circulating
books located at the Main Campus are divided between the First and Third
Floors. Books that are classed in A thru PE are located on the First Floor.
Books that are classed in PF thru Z are located on the Third Floor.
Non-circulating books are located in the Reference Department found on the
Second Floor. Also, books that are located in Special Collections (3rd Floor)
do not circulate.
Using the Subject access type in
your topic. Several entries should appear giving the necessary bibliographic
information including Call Numbers, location, and circulation status. If a book
is checked-out the status will read "Charged". If the book is
available the status will read "Available".
Locating Periodical Articles and Identifying Databases
TSU library has several electronic
databases available on a number of topics. These databases include Infotrac,
Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, ERIC, Medline, Agricola, OCLC’s
First Search, PsycLit, etc.
Your database choice would depend
largely on the topic you have chosen. For example, topics covering wide variety
of issues can be searched in Infotrac. Infotrac contains databases specific for
health, business and a wide range of other topics. For example it contains the
Health Reference Center, Business Index and Expanded Index. All research
indexed covers the latest periodical articles available including professional
and refereed journals.
Other specialized subject databases
are extremely useful in research purposes for the various disciplines. For
example, if your topic is involved with education or an educational related
topic, ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) would be an excellent
choice to search for related information. PyscLit (psychology), Agricola
(Agriculture), Medline (Medicine and Health Care), etc.
Searching the Web to Locate Internet Resources
Many search engines are available to
assist you in locating sources of information on the Internet. Some of these
search engines use Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) to query searches. For example,
to search for information on the adverse effects of Viagra enter: Viagra and
Adverse effects. Below is a selected list of search engines:
provides full-text resources of
millions of Web locations which includes newsgroups, but excludes FTP and
gopher sites. Reviews are added to evaluate the sites.
(Boolean) provides the abstracts of millions of Web pages and includes FTP and
gopher sites, but not newsgroups.
(Boolean) provides full-text sources of over a million Web
sites including FTP and gopher sites, but not newsgroups.
allows queries to be searched by several search
engines which include Yahoo, AltaVista, Infoseek, Excite, Thunderstone,
Webcrawler and Lycos.
provides access to millions of sites by subject and
Identifying Research-based and
Information located should be
evaluated for authority and quality. Your instructor or a librarian will be
resourceful in helping you determine the authority or lack of it in research.
Sources such as Ulrich’s International
Periodical Directory can help you determine whether a journal is a scholarly,
professional, refereed publication.
A librarian can help you identify
the researched-based databases, such as PyscLit, Sociological Abstracts,
Dissertation Abstracts, etc. vs. Non-research based databases such as SIRS,
some publications indexed in Infotrac, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.
Citing Sources of Information
The library owns several style
manuals to help you properly cite sources of information. The instructor should
recommend a format for your research paper which will include any of the
- Modern Language Association (MLA)
- American Psychological Association Publication Manual
- Kate Turabian: Manual for Writers of Term Papers