Help Online With Library Education & Research
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Most researchers confront an initial struggle to come up with a good set of terms that describe a particular topic. For example:
Dangerous / driving / driver behavior / risk
You might wish to start a search with the most important terms. Let's try 'dangerous driving".
This might be a good article, but even if it is not, note the subject terms associated with this topic:
And those are from just one of the hundreds of articles your initial searches might produce.
Using the most relevant of these and any others you discover, construct a new search! You can start with a 'broad' search and narrow as you go:
By searching with the terms that library databases prefer (subject terms), you should yield better, more relevant articles.
Your research or exploratory essay will be far better if you:
A reminder: Print books and DVDs are not available for checkout during shutdown for COVID-19
Find books, DVDs, streaming media, and ebooks in the Madison College Libraries catalog
On the 'Articles' tab of the Find box, try the quick search to get a sense of what source types are available for your topic:
You are also welcome to try this one:
Above you can see the types of sources that are most plentiful in a 'quick search' for 'medical marijuana', including 17k+ newspaper articles, nearly 5k magazine articles and almost 3k academic journal articles.
As a Madison College student, you have have borrowing privileges for print materials* from UW-Madison Libraries and access to Interlibrary Loan. Provided you allow yourself some lead-time, there's no reason your search for sources needs to be limited to our materials and electronic sources.
*see librarians for a courtesy card form
See links below:
As you work to discover good source material, you will encounter specialized language that describes your topic:
"keywords" AND "subject terms"
keywords: When you search using keywords, you have brainstormed a term associated with your topic, and you are hoping that there is a book, video, or article that is related to your search term. In database terms, however, the search looks for your term anywhere in the item's record.
subject terms: When you use a subject term, your search will only produce records of those items (articles, videos, or books) that have been indexed with that specific term.
If you try a keyword search such as: va programs
You find a book's record that looks like this:
However, you also get these two books on finance. Why?
Because the two terms 'VA' and 'programs' were in each record, although the terms weren't even next to one another. So in our books and AV catalog, only 3 items were found using VA programs as our search terms. By searching, instead, with the subject term 'Veterans', however, you would find well over 90 books and videos, all of which are far more relevant and helpful for your topic.
It's important, of course, that you do some initial searching with keywords in order to discover the best subject terms for your topic.
So long as you give us a bit of notice, you can meet with a librarian, one on one, using the form below. Here are the particulars:
Here's a link to the form:
Library Hours & Location Information: https://libguides.madisoncollege.edu/libraries
Truax: (608) 246-6640
Fort Atkinson: (920) 568-7241
Portage: (608) 745-3111
Watertown: (920) 206-8009
Click HERE! (links to a form)
The 'Boolean Operators' tutorial is courtesy of Lexi Spry & UW-Madison's School of Library and Information Studies.