During the workshop you will learn to:
During this workshop, we will practice ways that you can use library resources to help you get from a very broad topic, to one that is focused enough for your final assignment. Here is an example, so you can see the difference.
“Are teen girls who witness domestic violence more likely to perpetrators of violence in teenage dating relationships?”
You will almost always need to tweak and focus your original research topic. You will likely have to do this several times as you explore the published research to craft a topic appropriate to the length of your essay.
North Carolina State University Libraries. (n.d.). Picking your topic IS research [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/Q0B3Gjlu-1o
This video walks you through five steps for narrowing a broad topic to a more-focused research question which will guide your research and writing.
Laurier Library. (2017, December 20). Developing a research question [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/1oJNO6PYZe4
WORKSHEET: Research Question Worksheet: practice applying the video's tips to your topic
You've probably used Wikipedia as a starting place for research before. But you need to use caution with Wikipedia. See "A Note about Wikipedia" in our Doing Research tutorial for tips on using Wikipedia wisely.
An even better option is to use some of the scholarly encyclopedias available in the KPU Library. These contain entries written by experts which can help you to:
Use the KPU Library's search tool called Summon to search (almost) the entire KPU Library collection, all at once. I've created a simple graphic showing what types of information Summon can find.
Summon is the big search box on the library's homepage, but I've plugged in a quick search box below.
See the screenshots below for an example search for the broad topic of domestic violence.
Sometimes Summon will take you right to the exact entry you need in the encyclopedia, like in this example, which is really handy. But sometimes it does not. Every publisher's e-book platform is different. You may have to navigate to the specific section in your encyclopedia.
Scan through the encyclopedia entry for ideas on how you could narrow your topic.
Always look at the sources that are cited at the end of the encyclopedia entry. You might find some useful-sounding journal articles.
Use this box to search hundreds of full-text dictionaries, encyclopedias, and more related to Criminology and Law. This is just part of the full Credo Reference database.
Peer-reviewed journals are often called scholarly or academic journals. They are different from popular magazines. Articles in peer-reviewed journals:
Research databases usually include an option to filter results to "peer reviewed" or "scholarly" journal articles. This is very handy, but this filter is NOT 100% reliable. And often peer-reviewed journals will include some articles -- such as short book reviews or letters to the editor -- that have NOT been peer-reviewed.
Distinguishes the different types of materials that you will find in scholarly journals, and demonstrates how to spot the scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles.
Always double-check that the article has the features of a peer-reviewed article such as an abstract and extensive in-text citations. If the article is under 5 pages, it probably isn't a peer-reviewed article.
Here's a handy interactive visual tool that shows what to look for:
Still not sure? Ask yourself the questions in this PDF:
KPU Library subscribes to over 200 research databases covering different subjects and types of information. Most of these databases help you to find journal articles on specific topics. The Summon search tool searches most of the library's database, all at once.
But sometimes, Summon doesn't find the results you want. In that case, try searching within a specific database. Each database covers a different set of journals (and other sources), and has its own search tools. It's a good idea to search in more than one.
Please see the "Journal Articles" tab on this library guide for a list of recommended databases for Criminology. Here is a quick search box for just one of these databases, called Criminal Justice Abstracts:
Use the KPU Library's search tool called Summon to search (almost) the entire KPU Library collection, all at once. Summon is the big search box on the library's homepage, but I've plugged in a quick search box below.
Short video helps you pick the keywords in your research question that will get the best results in a library research database.
Credit: Lloyd Sealy Library at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY).
Credit: Celia Brinkerhoff, Doing Research: A Student's Guide to Finding and Using the Best Sources
The Advanced Search screen in Summon (and any research database) will give you more options to control the way that Summon handles your search. You can build much more precise searches.
For tips on how to put together a good search strategy in any database, see the "Planning your Search" box on this library guide. You should expect to try out many combinations of keywords. Look at the first 5-10 results that you get from each search. You may want to add in new concepts to narrow the focus of your topic further. You may also discover synonyms (words with the same meaning), or different spellings of words, that you want to include in your search.
To see the details of each search strategy in the Summon Advanced Search that I demonstrate in the workshop, please see this PDF:
Enter DIFFERENT concepts in SEPARATE search boxes, connected with the AND command.
Enter synonyms or related terms into the SAME search box, joined with the OR search command.
See the Search Planner handout for details on each search trick. These can really improve the precision of your search and bring back more relevant results. See the Search Planner tab on this box for details. A couple of examples are shown below.
For Part E of the library assignment, you will need to take a screenshot of your final search strategy and paste it into the assignment. The screenshot should show all of the search terms you used and how you combined them, and the number of peer-reviewed articles you found. See the instructions below on what to do if your screenshot does NOT include all of this information.
Video credit: Western Sydney University Library. (2020). APA style, 7th edition: Referencing an online journal article [Videorecording]. https://youtu.be/Ntxyx2WhEHU
Most library research databases have built-in citation generators. These are handy tools to create a rough citation, but you ALWAYS need to double-check them. Here is an example from Summon: