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Ouachita Baptist University
Division of Music

Basic Research Strategies

A research strategy is a systematic plan of finding the information you need quickly and efficiently. A basic research strategy appears below. Note that evaluation of sources is an integral part of the research strategy.

I. CHOOSE A TOPIC.

Avoid a topic that is too broad (you’ll be swamped) or too narrow (you won’t find enough).

II. FIND BACKGROUND INFORMATION.

• General encyclopedias (Academic American, Britannica, Americana, etc.)

• Specialized encyclopedias (Encyclopedia of Sociology, McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, etc.)

• Specialized reference books (almanacs, atlases, directories, etc.)

• Look up unfamiliar terms in a dictionary (either general or specialized).

III. LOCATE BOOKS AND/OR ARTICLES ON YOUR TOPIC.

• Library catalog

• Bibliographies (at the end of books, articles, encyclopedia entries, etc.)

• Periodical indexes

IV. EVALUATE SOURCES

• Does the TITLE sound right?

• Is the AUTHOR an authority? (Check biographical sources.)

• Is the JOURNAL reputable? (Is it a scholarly journal or a popular magazine? What sort of information does your
paper require?)

• Does the book/article have a BIBLIOGRAPHY or other helpful features?

• Check the DATE. Do you need current or historical information?

• How is the book REVIEWED? (Check book review indexes.)

V. LOCATE BOOKS/ARTICLES IN THE LIBRARY.

Materials not held by OBU may be held by HSU. Request materials not held by either library through interlibrary loan.
Allow at least two weeks for such requests to be filled.

VI. TAKE NOTES.

VII. ORGANIZE THE MATERIAL.

VIII. WRITE. REWRITE.

Never PLAGIARIZE! DOCUMENT your sources using the STYLE MANUAL recommended
by your instructor.

If you have any questions about library research, see a librarian. Don’t get so hung up in the search process that you never start your paper.