Like objects in the rear-view mirror, due dates for term papers and essays are closer than they appear! Students are – or should be – defining topics, developing theses, and preparing outlines. The best are also exploring, documenting, and absorbing others’ views as well. Doing so fills in their knowledge gaps and broadens their perspectives. (And besides, consulting a designated number of reliable resources is a mandatory element of any quality assignment, right?!)
Today, the internet makes finding information resources easier than ever. But Scholar’s Secret (and scholars everywhere) would argue that great information can be found elsewhere, too; in fact, a solid research strategy taps into multiple resource types. The list is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Virtual resources: Some online resources, like the library catalog or PubMed, “point” you to published information elsewhere. Others, such as The New York Times, deliver the full-text right to your screen. Many, like iLibrary databases (i.e. Academic Search Premier or Opposing Viewpoints indexes) do both. Select a database that’s relevant to your topic, though – not just because it delivers full-text!
- Physical resources: Books, works of art, and some older journals, government reports, and historical records fall into this category. Finding what you need from these can be rewarding but can also take time. Allow the time, be creative, and if you need help, ask a librarian.
- Human resources: If you can carry on a comprehensible, two-way dialogue with a resource, it’s (probably) human! Scholar’s Secret strongly recommends that all writers take the time to consult with human experts – at universities, organizations, museums, and beyond. Consider this: if you can think it, chances are that someone, somewhere has made a career out of it.
Not all types are right for every purpose, and some sources are more accurate and reliable than others; discerning these differences takes practice and a critical eye. Yet once learned, they’re skills that will pay dividends for a lifetime. Want to sharpen your information literacy skills? Contact Scholar’s Secret today!