Libraries today have improved their services in order to provide both printed and electronic materials to the users. Majority of students prefer using electronic materials to do their research since it is convenient and faster. In order to become “information literate” and to successfully deliver successful research project, it is important to locate the relevant information. It is important to understand the difference between doing a critical substantive research and “surfing the net” (American Library Association, 2003)
The first step to undertake when a certain research assignment that requires internet research or library is given is to determine the objectives of the assignment. The student first sets on the section that has the topic of research using the library reference collection. A statement of objectives or background information helps the student to select the appropriate library catalogs, printed indexes and article databases. If the student is conducting an internet search ‘a statement of objectives’ helps him/her to establish the appropriate search tool and locate timely and relevant materials.
LIBRARY STRATEGIES After setting and establishing the research objectives, the next step involves breaking down the assignment in to research strategy steps that would help in accomplishing the stated objectives (Dempsey, 2007). The research strategy steps involves first defining the topic using an appropriate book that has the background information or using an encyclopedia. From there a list of keywords and relevant phrases are developed that help in the search.
If the research requires printed material, library catalogs, printed indexes and article databases are used to find recent and relevant information in books, journals and magazines. When using electronic materials, keywords are typed on the search engines or internet directories to locate high-quality, relevant and authoritative web sites. Most libraries are co-operating in order to provide developed services to the users. Therefore it is necessary to locate a library that has diversified materials as it would grant recent and quality materials to choose information from a number of books, journals or websites.
When searching for materials online, it is important to look for licensed sites to avoid problems with the law. Scholarly articles are the best materials to do a research from as compared to popular sources because they are free from bias. CONCLUSION Library research process can be broken down in to five easy steps namely defining the topic, selecting research resources for the particular topic, locating the information identified in the selected resources, evaluating the resources and finally documenting or citing the resources (American Library Association, 2003).
To define a topic involves having clear understanding of the research objectives. The topic of research should be well understood and background search conducted using encyclopedias, subject dictionaries or thesauri, bibliographies or research guides and handbooks. In case it becomes hard to locate a book using library catalogue, the librarian can be requested to give instructions and direction. A concept map is a method used by modern libraries to find information in electronic and print research resources.
Selecting resources for research depends on whether the research requires in-depth study or not. If the resources are for basic research, Short Loan collections or articles and books found in Desk Copy can be used. However for an advanced search abstracting journals, indexing publications or electronic journals are used to locate conference papers and articles that are relevant to the topic. Peer reviewed scholarly articles are recommended for conducting research because they go through external editing that verifies the authenticity and accuracy of information presented.
Reputable magazines and newspaper are a good source of information so long as they have current information and are objective. All research materials should be properly cited and documented to avoid plagiarism. REFERENCES American Library Association. (2003). Toolkit for academic and research libraries (@ your library: the campaign for America’s libraries). Chicago, IL: American Library Association. Dempsey, L. (2007). The network reconfigures the library systems environment. Retrieved on July 19, 2010 from http://orweblog. oclc. org/archives/001379. html