Thursday, December 1, 2005

Use an Author's References to Find Additional Resources on your Topic

Scholarly and peer-reviewed articles and books normally contain a list of references (i.e., a bibliography) used by the author in writing the document. If you can find one relevant article or book on your research topic, you can then consult this list of references (usually placed at the end of the text) to expand your search. In other words, the author has already done research on the topic, so why not use that to easily locate further resources? Not only is this an accurate way to locate scholarly resources, but it can save you valuable time and effort in locating the most seminal articles on your topic.

Follow these steps for locating relevant articles:
  1. Do a search in one of the library's research databases as you would normally (e.g., using keywords that describe your search). You should also limit your search to "scholarly or peer-reviewed" publications.
  2. Locate an article from the results that most closely fits your topic and that is available in full-text, and view it.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the article text and review the "References" listed there (note that not all articles will contain references). This will show you the information sources that the author of the article consulted to write the article. These references should be directly related to the article content and hopefully also to your topic.
  4. Copy, jot down or print any references that look useful to you (note that not all references cited are guaranteed to be scholarly - always evaluate your information sources).
  5. For journal articles, use the FReD full-text journal tool to check the availability of specific journal volumes.
  6. For books, journals not available in our collection, and other materials, use WorldCat to see if any of the items might be on the shelves of a library near you.
List of references from a sample ProQuest article:
sample ProQuest article list of references
List of references from a sample Gale Group article (InfoTrac OneFile):
sample Gale InfoTrac article list of references
For more help doing research, locating articles or using library resources, "Ask a Librarian" (http://www.esc.edu/askalibrarian).

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