What is a Research Guide?
A list of recommended tools used to discover information on a topic. Examples of these "discovery tools" are databases, books, journals, websites, and catalogs. Research guides also contain brief tips for how to effectively use discovery tools. Liaison librarians create research guides for their assigned University programs. Most guides identify resources for a specialized topic; however, some are created for specific courses.
For tutorials on getting started with research, visit the Research Skills 101 page.
- Background information sources
- Using the online library catalog
- Scholarly journal articles
- Using databases
- Google search
- Tutorials and library assistance
At the early stages of the research process, perform preliminary research to learn about your topic. Why? To refine your focus and gain contextual understanding to frame your research, so you can develop a complex, interesting research question. Background information also introduces specialized vocabulary that researchers use to describe your topic - incorporate this specalized vocabulary in your research writing and when searching for scholarly sources. Subject encyclopedias, news items, and scholarly monographs (books) are useful sources for getting started. Subject encyclopedias and other reference works - e.g. handbooks, dictionaries, directories - are useful throughout the research process for finding facts as needed.
- Online Library Catalog — ELECTRONIC Find specialized print and electronic encyclopedias by performing a keyword search such as Internet AND Encyclopedia
- AccessScience — ELECTRONIC 7100+ articles, hundreds of Research Updates in all areas of science and technology updated daily. Weekly updates of breakthroughs and discoveries in science and technology, a science dictionary, and links to related websites
- — ELECTRONIC Approximately 200 dictionaries, language reference works, and subject reference works. No more than 5 users can access the tool at the same time. Reference Online
- Lexis Nexis Academic Universe — ELECTRONIC Provides extensive coverage of US and world news publications and news transcripts
- Electronic Newspapers — ELECTRONIC Drexel University Libraries provides access to several newspapers and their archives, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times (back to 1851), The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. This page provides access for each.
Scholarly monographs (books)
- Online Library Catalog — ELECTRONIC Search the Libraries collection of over 500,000 print books and 150,000 electronic books
- Google Books — ELECTRONIC Collection of millions of digitized books and magazines. If the work is out of copyright, or the publisher has given permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. Google Books allows you to search for words and phrases within books, making it a valuable search tool
- WorldCat — ELECTRONIC Collection of millions of library catalog records for books and other materials from thousands of U.S. and international libraries. Drexel University Libraries included
If the Drexel Libraries does not have a book in the collection, borrow it from another library through E-Z Borrow. The service is fast, easy, and free.
Click Books and More on the Libraries homepage to access the catalog. Use the drop-down menu, to choose a search option:
Keyword : This is the default search in the library catalog; it lets you search on any topic you're interested in. Use and & or to combine more than one keyword to refine your keyword search
Title : Quickly check if the Libraries have a particular book you want
Author : Find books the Libraries hold that are written by a particular person. If you want a book about a particular person, search for them as a subject. In either case, put the last name first: Washington, George
LC Subject : These are the "official" subject headings from the Library of Congress assigned to items in the catalog. If you don't know the appropriate subject heading, start with a keyword search. Then read the subject headings in the record of a source that relates to your topic
Use a library database to search for scholarly research articles to help develop your thesis - the answer to your research question. The Libraries subscribe to over 500 databases. Start with a mulitdisciplinary database that covers a broad range of subjects. Which subject database to use depends on your research question. Read the description of subject databases to determine if sources searchable in the database are relevant to your research topic. For example, if researching an aspect of college students' communication behaviors on social-networking sites, try using a subject database for communication.
- ProQuest Research Library — ELECTRONIC Delivers more than 4,000 full-text publications from over 3,000 publishing partners in the areas of Business, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences
- Academic Onefile — ELECTRONIC Search across over 11000 periodicals, and over 4300 fulltext titles
- Summon — ELECTRONIC Discovery tool that allows you to search many of the Libraries subscribed databases and resources, including items in the Library catalog
- Communication & Mass Media Complete — ELECTRONIC Search numerous journals in communication, mass media, and other closely-related fields of study
- Sociological Abstracts — ELECTRONIC indexes and abstracts the literature in sociology (and related disciplines) from an international selection of journals, serials, conference papers, books, and dissertations
- Education Research Complete — ELECTRONIC Largest and most complete collection of full text education journals
Use Interlibrary loan for articles not available in the Libraries collection, either electronically or in print (similar to EZ-Borrow for books). Requires a one-time registration setup. The service is fast, easy, and free.
Search terms : Do not enter full sentences in the databaase search box. As a rule of thumb, use 2 to 4 terms to search a database. Combine terms with Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT. Use quotation marks to surround exact phrases: "social media."
Filters : For greater control, use a database's advanced search options to narrow results: Limit by publication type (scholarly journals), source format (research articles), date of publication (less than 5 years old).
Finding full text : If the full text of an article is not available in one database, click the GET IT! button in the database to check if it's available in another database. If the article is not available electronically, search the library catalog for the journal in print - search by journal title, not the title of the specific article.
- Google Scholar — WWW Specialized search engine for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Clicking on a source title listed in Google Scholar results will not lead you to free full text access to the source. Click the GetIt@Drexel link near the source record to access the full text through one of the Libraries' subscription resources. From off-campus, add Drexel University in the Library Links in Google Scholar Preferences.
- Research Skills 101
- New Researcher Videos
- New Students' Guide to the Libraries
- Library Tutorials
- Citation Style Resources
- IM/Chat, text, phone, email, and drop-in reference help
- Book a reference consultation with a liasion librarian
- Personal Librarian Program
Content Editor: Nancy Bellafante
Last Updated: 12/03/2012