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Make sure you read the search screen for the online system you are using, because many online indexes and catalogs ask you to click on Keyword Search or something similar, before sending the surfer in search of the prize. Some Hot Tips To Enhance Your Quest For Fire: Try using a little logic - Boolean logic, that is. Most online indexes use some version of Boolean searching.
These would include (but need not be limited to) books, magazine articles, journal articles (really serious magazines), reference books, and the internet.
Avoid using too many newspaper articles and magazines wherever you can.
But most of the time, what you have is a genuinely fuzzy idea, and that's where keyword searches come in real handy.
Every library has at least one keyword-searchable index of magazines and journals, and may even have a special index that covers your subject area. Try typing in the words that come closest to your topic, and see what happens.
Use it on your first draft to get your bearings, or on your final draft to check the way you’ve organized your paragraphs. Many papers may have more than that, but if yours has less, you probably skimped in the endless hours in the library department.
Even better, papers should draw on a variety of sources, which usually boils down to books, essays, journal articles and/or magazines.No more than one third of your sources should come from magazines or the internet, unless they refer to actual data.If your entire argument is built upon a stack of Newsweeks, it will tremble in the slightest breeze. Try to use several different types of sources in your research.So psych* would be searched as psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy, all at the same time.But it would also drag in psychotic, psychobabble and psychosomatic, so use truncation with caution. By the time you finish your research and writing, you might well be genuinely sick to death of your topic (ask any graduate student who's just completed a dissertation! But if you're bored when you start, you've already defeated yourself, and turned a potentially interesting assignment into yet more drudgery. If cloning is too broad for a five page paper, what about cloning Elvis? Make sure that you find this topic genuinely interesting, or find some aspect of it that is especially cool. If your topic is way too broad, try homing in on some part of that topic, and exploring that area in more depth.Kind of like a sixth sense, or a really obscure super power. Remember that most of the interface you deal with aren't really librarians, they're student workers, clerical staff, or whoever else could be dragooned into helping to fill the long hours on the firing line.In your first draft, say what you have to say, then punch it up or trim it down as need be. Outlining is a genuine pain, which I personally put in the same category as cleaning the litter box - a necessary evil. You should seek out and befriend a competent and helpful reference librarian early on, like Buffy found Giles.If you get zip, try thinking of alternate terms, synonyms, slang etc. Usually you get way too much, because in our haste to get everything online, we've indexed everything to death.So a search on alligators turns up everything from wildlife to recipes.