Conducting basic research

Since this is a pretty small paper, you’re not going to have enough space for a massive amount of research. I think 3-4 sources of outside information, combine with your own thoughts and reactions, should be more than enough to get you through 4-6 pages of writing.

But where can you find 3-4 reliable sources of information about your selected topic? Here are some resources and examples:

  • The super-inter-information webnet highway, also known as the “internet,” is a great place to start. The dubya-dubya-dubya is the Wild West of information, so you have to be careful, but it’s especially useful at the beginning of your research when you’re just trying to get a basic idea of what’s out there. Here are some links:
    • Google: Working still on my Emily Dickinson topic, I Googled the term “Emily Dickinson death poetry.” You’ll notice that most of these links are useless biography pages and collections of poetry. You could check out some of those, but they probably won’t help you get a new angle on this specific topic. So, let’s try something more specific, like “Emily Dickinson criticism.” I liked the look of that third link, and it eventually took me to this page. Which brings up my next point: If you clicked that last link you noticed it was a list of actual books. If you really want to save time and get the most useful, specific information out there, you’ll go for the books.
    • Library: So, the internet superhighway took me to a list of books. Where can I get these books? Well, try the Salt Lake City Public Library. Let’s start with the second book on that webpage from the last bullet: Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays. I searched for that title at the SLCPL, and it brought up this page. So, they don’t have the exact book I wanted, but look at what they do have. This could be useful. How about a general book for starters, like Emily Dickinson: Modern critical views. Click on that book and you get to this page. Not only does this page tell you where to find the book at the library, it also has a subject heading down below that you can actually click to find all the other books in that heading. On this page, the clickable subject heading is Dickinson, Emily , 1830-1886 — Criticism and Interpretation. This gives you 20 specific books you can find, and now it’s time to go to the library. Once there, the smart among you may recognize the genius of the Dewey decimal system as you realize that most of the books on that list are catalogued under 811 D533, so all you have to do is find that shelf on the 4th floor of the library and browse until you find what you need, in my case, an essay about images of death or dying.
    • Internet Databases. But what if you don’t want to leave the house, or climb 3 flights of stairs at the library? Well, we have one other major source of information, and that is the Pioneer Online Library. This database is just a collection of sources that were once in print, but have now been electronified for your browsing pleasure. Once you’re on the main page, the most useful database for this project will probably be the SIRS Knowledge Source. I tried the search “Dickinson death poetry,” which brought up more than enough pretty specific stuff to get me started on a small researched essay. Notice that at the top of the page, you can separate your results into newspaper articles, magazine articles, etc.

So that should get you started on the research. Don’t forget that Google is a good place to start, but it won’t get you very far. Honestly, the easiest and fastest way to conduct this type of research is 20 minutes of browsing at a specific library shelf.

For information on citing these articles and books, click here.

Happy hunting!

Key Links:

Salt Lake City Public Library

Pioneer Online Library

SIRS database


2 responses to “Conducting basic research

  1. i tried to go to the pioneer library thing and it said i needed to get a password from my teacher.

  2. There’s actually a password on the lower-lefthand corner of the front page of the Pioneer library page, although I’ve heard some people have still had problems accessing the whole database from home. The easiest way to get it would be to spend a few minutes here in one of our labs where the Pioneer library flows free ‘n’ easy.


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