Good Research Habits
Questions to ask yourself
- Can I articulate my research topic in a few sentences?
- Have I done preliminary research in dictionaries or encyclopedias for context & to enter into the discourse?
- Select a database (using a research guide, from this list, or after talking to a librarian)
- Remember to search using concept terms, e.g., Imagery, Imagination; or authors' names; or titles, e.g., Mélusine
- Use the thesaurus or index to determine the concept terms for a particular database
- Use (), and, or, not to build complex searches, e.g., (imagery or imagination) and Mélusine not France
- Use a librarian's expertise for more ideas!
Managing your research
- Use Zotero to keep track of your citations and pdfs
Using Special Collections
Many of the libraries and archives you will wish to visit require users to perform many steps in order to access their materials. Procedures vary: some institutions require an appointment in advance, some require a researcher's card, some charge a fee. It is advisable to familiarize yourself with an institution's requirements well in advance.
If you plan to conduct research in the summer, it is also important to check if the library will be open. Many may have limited hours, or be closed entirely for part or all of August.
- Accessing the collections
You should be prepared with a letter from your dissertation advisor or department chair attesting to your research needs.
Handling the books
It is important to cooperate with the handling instructions of the libraries you visit.
What to bring with you
Be prepared to leave most of your things in a locker and have the items you bring in to the reading room searched thoroughly and repeatedly. Some libraries may allow you to photograph the material; be sure to ask if this is allowed before you start doing it, and make extra sure that your flash is off.
- Fresh from the Archives
A site where researchers post about their experiences researching at various libraries and archives.
An archival collection guide, often called a finding aid, is guide to a group of archival records, personal papers, or manuscripts. It may be a brief summary, or a detailed description and inventory. The guide describes the origin, extent, dates, contents, topics, and organization of the records.
Archives are generally held in folders in boxes, and described in the number of linear feet that those boxes take up.
Searching for & finding archives