How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

Finding Articles on Similar Topics

This presupposes that you have an article already in hand or chosen. To find articles that cover the same topic(s) the following strategies are recommended. You will need to do a combination of these.

Where might someone find articles on the same topic?

  • Check the bibliography (if it exists) of your article to see what sources the author used or recommends. There should be articles on the same topic(s).
  • Next strategy:
    1. Write down the key words you can find for the article. These will be from the title of the article as well as from within the article.
    2. Write down synonyms for the key words (indexes use terminology that may not match the exact terms used in your article).
    3. Select possible indexes and/or abstracts. A Reference Librarian can help you do this.
    4. Search for your key words/subjects in the indexes/abstracts you've selected. Write down the bibliographic information for articles that look relevant (author, title of article, name of journal, volume, pages, date). (See How to Use a Print (Paper) Index, How to Use a Print (Paper) Abstract, Electronic Searching--Exploring a Database)
    5. Write down subject headings/descriptors that fit your subject (found in the records of the articles or in the thesaurus (if available), and do searches using these terms, recording your finds. Remember that terminology often varies from index to index, so be sure to use the appropriate term(s) for each index.
  • Choosing a subject index--another strategy. Look in Ulrich's (ask a Reference Librarian if you need help) to find out where the journal your article is from is indexed. (Some scholarly journals list on the verso of the title page of each issue where it is indexed.) Then look in that index for articles on the same topic. If you only have a copy of the article, you won't be able to check the journal's title page unless you locate a complete issue.
  • A corollary strategy: Find your article in the subject index and look at the subject descriptors. Then do searches for the subject descriptors and locate articles on similar subjects.

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