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PHYS 235: Electricity and Magnetism

Spring 2021 - For Professor Helen Minsky

Some thoughts on research...

Library research is not a linear process. Instead, it is a matter of trying something, evaluating and learning from the results, refining your strategy, trying something else, and exploring lots of possibilities. It can be a fun and invigorating part of research - finding new information and thinking about what that might mean for your topic.  This list below is not meant to be taken literally as a strict procedure; instead these are questions to keep in mind as you do your research.  

Remember also that the librarians are here to help.

Some other questions to ask yourself as you're starting your research

1.  What discipline or disciplines am I working in?  Are there other disciplines that might be interested in the same question?
  Some tools:

·   Subject research guides: library web site -> Guides Tab -> Subject Guides

·   Databases by subject: library web site -> Databases Tab -> Databases By Subject

2.   What sources do I already have?
Do they mention other sources of information or data (bibliography)?
Do they use specific terminology or wording?
Do they talk about particular places, people, or agencies?

3.   What type of literature or information do I need?
Who might collect that information?
Who would be interested in it?

4.   How and where will I search for the information I need?

5.   How will I access the information that I find?

6.   What keywords or terms could be used to describe my topic?

7.   After running a few searches: What results am I getting?  Am I getting too many results?  Too few?

8.   What refinements should I make to my search in light of those results?

9.   How will I use the results that I’ve found?

10. What information am I still missing?

Keeping track

While you're researching, it's helpful to keep notes in some form or another - whatever works best for you.  The important thing is to keep track of where you've been, what you've looked at, and what worked and what didn't.

Some things to keep track of...


  • Where did you search?
  • Which search terms did you use?
    • which worked well?
    • which didn't?


  • What did you find?
  • How will it help you?
  • How can you get to it again?
    • URL for webpage,
    • folder location if you've downloaded an article,
    • call number of a book or map