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Research Skills for Undergraduates

OSU Libraries workshops for undergraduate students.

Transcript - Move Your Research Beyond Good Enough Workshop video (Pt. 2)

Transcribed by Disability Access Services at Oregon State University. 

May 2012

Move Your Research Beyond Good Enough workshop (Pt. 2)

Okay so let's search for something besides PTSD in military.  Who has a different topic that we can search for?  Don't make me do trees. 


Female student:  How about breast cancer? 


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Breast cancer.  Alright.  So I'm doing a keyword search first and as expected we will probably get a lot of results and that's okay because we can refine from there.  What I want to show you, so we've got lots of internet resources up here at the top.  Alright, let's go to an actual book just so I can show you.  So if you look down here at the bottom, again, being able to see it you can just see where I have highlighted it.  The subject terms that are given to this book, Breast Cancer Genes and the Gendering of Knowledge: Science and Citizenship in the Cultural Context of the New Genetics, so the subjects that are given to that are things like "Genetic Screening," "Breast Cancer--Genetic aspects," "Breast Cancer--Social aspects."  So what you see down here is a term and then two dashes, another term, two dashes.  The important thing for you to know is that if you were searching for subject terms you would have to enter that in exactly.  And you can do that.  People who have minds that think like that can remember subject terms.  My mind is not the subject term sort of mind but I love being able to click on it.  So if this is a book that you really, really like and think really would be helpful for your research you can click on it and then it will give you every other book or resource in the library that has those same subject terms.  So it looks like we got ten.  So subject terms are a much more controlled ways of searching for articles.  So once you have found one it will help you find a lot more. 


Same thing works in databases.  So I'm going to walk you into the databases and then if you turn over your sheet there's a lot of stuff on this sheet, and because I'm only going to give you a few minutes if you just look above the break on your worksheet that's kind of where I want you to think about.  You can review and explore more on your own below that worksheet.  But if we think about database searching, so back to that main library page.  Alright so if you're looking for databases you can click Find It up here at the top, and Databases.  Who has been to this page?  Who stops at this page after they find Academic Search Premier?  Just a couple.  So one way that you can filter by—Academic Search Premier is great.  It's a really broad search database that probably will serve most of you just delightfully.  But if you want to narrow it and find more databases, more specific databases for your discipline, you can filter by those disciplines, by that subject.  So who wants to give me their subject, their discipline, and we can narrow by that? 


Psychology.  Last time I did something like tourism.  One of the students wanted to search for articles on tourism in the Bahamas.  So that was actually pretty fun.  So psychology it looks like what you've got over here on the left side of your screen, there are six databases that are really more comprehensive database—or I'm sorry, not comprehensive—those databases that are the broad Academic Search Premier level of databases.  Over here on the right you see those more comprehensive databases. 


So all I want you to take from this is to know that you can filter that databases page by your subject and get really specific databases for your discipline.  And if you get to this page and you want to know what these databases actually include, you can click the red circled I here and it will give you—oop, maybe not.  It'll give you information—"No description available."  It should give you information about that database, about that resource, including the years that are covered.  So if you find something on Google, you find something on Google Scholar, you find a reference on a work cited list, and you want to find that article for yourself, knowing what those dates are, if you have an article that's cited in 2009 but the database only covers 2010 and on you won't find that article.  So that'll be listed here as well. 


So go ahead and go back to your computers and navigate to the databases page and then filter your search.  And then what I want you to do is explore around that Advanced Search page, seeing if you can find some peer review articles, literature review articles, seeing if you limit by the different options within that page.  And again, if you're having trouble getting to that page or finding anything, go ahead and raise your hand. 


So is everybody into a specific database?  Is anybody not in a specific database? 


[Tiah laughs]


Maybe I should ask that.  Has anybody not found articles or ways to limit those searches?  OK, so let's go ahead and come back.  So what did you guys find?  Or what databases did you explore? 


Female student:  I was looking at websites.


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  The websites is a good one.  It's not one that I use a lot but I know that it's a fabulous fabulous resource for a scientist. 


What did you find?  Anything interesting? 


Student:  Yeah, I mean I found, I was looking for a topic that there isn't a lot of research on so I only found thirty results and a lot of them aren't that necessarily applicable to what I'm looking for. 


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  But it may have sparked something in your mind, though.  I think that's the great thing about sort of narrowing your search but then being able to crawl back out of that search.  So did anybody notice subject terms in articles that you found?  So again, it should be in that record before you go to the full text or to a page that prompts you to go to the library page to find a print copy in case we don't have that electronically.  But there are subject terms for all of the articles that you've found as well and they function just like those subject terms in the library catalog that we looked at.  So just knowing that there are ways that you can narrow and refine your search, even without adding more words yourself.  So once you find one you like you can click and find more. 


So there's a whole workshop that happens as part of this workshop series called "Work Smarter: Citation Searching."  It's an entire hour of you learning how to do that kind of citation searching and chasing citations.  It's a great one. 


So I referred earlier to that scholarly conversation.  So why is it important for you as students to know about that scholarly conversation?  You might say to yourself, "Well I'm just writing papers, I'm not publishing these papers, so why does it matter?"  Why do you care what other people in your field are saying?  Furrowed brows. 


So one thing I like to encourage students to think about is even though you're students right now and some of you may go on to higher education, some of you may go on to publish lots of books, some of you may go on to publish lots of articles or do research studies, but right now as students at OSU it's important you know the work that's being done in your discipline.  So when you're writing papers, when you're doing projects, it's really important to understand what other people are talking about, discussing in that field.  So that's important for you as students. 


But as researchers who are publishing articles, so the people that you're finding as article authors or book authors, those people also need to know what's going on in the field around them.  It's sort of like you don't want to be talking about something that nobody else is talking about.  You don't want to be researching something, especially those of you in the sciences), you don't want to put all of your eggs in this research basket when everyone is actually over here doing this research now.  So thinking about that Cited By feature in Google or in Web of Science, knowing what the most current work that's being done, that conerstone that's going on is really important as scholars. 


So there's more to think about on your own and resources in your packet for thinking about and discussing that scholarly conversation.  And one of the handouts I gave you, the single-paged handout, is about review articles and peer-review articles.  So thinking about the different kinds of articles that you might find, you might be asked to find by your instructors, and exploring what the differences between those are. 


Who's been asked to find a peer reviewed article, specifically?  So do you feel pretty comfortable if that has been assigned?  What that means or how you might go about finding that?  Who does not feel comfortable?  So peer reviewed articles are those articles that do the—thanks for coming—jt do that research, write that article, and then they're sent out to other people in the field.  So colleagues might be at different universities.  They might be at different research institutes.  So if you write an article, so if I write an article and I submit it to you as the publisher, you might say, "Well this sounds like a great article to me but I want to know how other people would review this article, has this might work for other people in the field."  So then you would send it to, say, three reviewers that are in that discipline and might be considered experts in that field.  So you would send the article to those three people and they would say, "Yeah she's right on, she's spot on.  Oh my gosh, give her a prize right now?" or they might say, "There are some revisions that need to be made because she didn't think about this article or she didn't think about this study," whatever.  And then they would send it back to you, you would send it back to me and I would revise that article.  So peer review means it's been sent out to that scholarly community.  They have given their input and then they send it back.  I make those changes. 


So what does that mean for you as researchers?  How might that impact your role as a researcher?  Why might that be beneficial?  Thinking about the scholarly conversation and the timeliness of research.  Yeah? 


Female student:  So you know that it’s relevant and correct.


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Yeah, so relevance and correctness.  Yeah, for sure.  And maybe comprehensive as well so that I have really thought about that whole research world and can report to you as that. 


So one thing that you will find in peer review articles, so in your databases there are different words that are given to it in different databases but there's a way to limit just to peer review articles in most databases.  The great thing about peer review articles is that they will often have a literature review.  So it's a way for you—sort of think about it like Wikipedia.  It's a way for you to get that kind of broad overview of the other studies, the state of the research landscape, other studies that have been done that inform that study.  They're great tools.  And they also will often have a really big robust work cited list, so again, it allows you to find out what that person researched in presenting their article to you.  Does that make sense?  Okay. 


So there's another workshop that talks all about managing your searches and your citations.  It's called "Bibliographies in a Snap" and it focuses really directly on Zotero.  Who's used Zotero?  People who use Zotero, kind of like people who use Web of Science, love Zotero, once you get it worked into your work flow.  It's a way of tracking your citations, managing those citations, managing the research you've done.  But it’s not, Zotero's not the only way.  It depends really on what your research style is and the way that you track your work.  There are lots of different ways that you can keep track.  I've listed those here.  But what's most important is not the way you choose to keep track but that you do keep track.  Nothing is worse than having that moment where you say, "I can't remember where I got that really important quote and I need to cite it in my paper."  Who has had that happen?  And that's when you do what?  Panic. 


[Tiah laughs]


Little bit.  So I think that knowing that it's a really important way, there are lots of really great ways for you to keep track, just make sure that you are keeping track however it works for you.  So keeping track of your research, the citations you do, is great.  But it's also really important to me to share with you the importance of keeping track of the research that you're reading about, so learning how to log your research and taking notes.  In your packet there are lots of references, links you can follow up on.  Let's see how far I can go.  So over here on your right is the—that would be your left.  Over here on your left (whichever side we're on) is the Cornell method for taking notes.  This is more of the mind mapping and this is more the hierarchical.  So there are different ways that people like to keep track of what they find, outline their articles.  And you can explore those on your own.  But also logging your research.  So however you log your research it's just really important for you to make sure that you keep track of what you find, also what you didn't find.  So thinking about what worked, what ideas that you have for new research.  So if you go down that rabbit hole where you're exploring around in the database and you get down there and you can't quite figure out how you got there or what you were searching, but you know that there were a lot of great thoughts on the way, just keep track of it in some way. 


So these are some ideas.  I'll give you a second to read over, again, the text heavy slide about collecting your work.  So what are some ways that you guys keep track of your work?  Or do you keep track of your work as you work?  And it's okay to say, "I don't keep track, I panic." 


[audience laughing]


That's why you're here.  You're here for me to impart the importance.  Yeah? 


Female student:  I use Zotero sometimes to kind of log the articles that I’ve used.


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Zotero's great because you can take it with you wherever you are.  So anywhere you have a computer you can log in to that computer and see what you've found before.  You can take lots of notes within it.  You can categorize them, tag them different ways that would be meaningful to projects you're working on. 


So other ways that you guys keep track? 


Male student:  I print everything out that I find, just in case. 


[man laughs]


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  I am a big printer too.  Sometimes I feel like I should have like, the un-ecofriendly button.  As we are here in Earthweek, the "I Printed."  Yeah.  I think working in the archives I feel like I'm surrounded by all of the stuff that people printed out that they didn't really need. 


[Tiah laughs]


So yes I'm with you there.  I try to not be like that but yeah, I think printing out, sometimes though thinking about do you need to print out the entire article or can you just print out that cover page and then note it up?  Yeah, we're in that transition period where maybe, you know, a few generations from now our brains will all be online and we'll feel fine with that. 


So be intentional, keep track of what you read and what you find, just really think about how those different research pieces fit together, and reflect on your research process.  So thinking about what has been a success, what's been a failure, maybe some of those research resources that you might want to think more about.  So here's a list of them.  And in your packet there's a big long list of links for all of the things that are in red, but what does it mean to you or what did you hope that it would mean to you to "move beyond good enough" for your research paper?  What did that spark in your head when you read the title?  What would be "moving beyond good enough?" 


Female student:  It's finding more sources, more relevant sources. 


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Yeah, finding more relevant sources for sure.  And I think using those tools of being able to search broadly but then also narrowing your search so you're being much more focused in that search and then kind of exploring around once you've found some good articles.  What else would move you beyond where you were—I won't be so grandiose as to say "where you were forty-five minutes ago," but thinking about how you might use some of these tools to improve your research process in the future?  Yeah? 


Female student:  I guess just keeping track of your research process just because you think about doing a paper if you're done with it and it's over with, but really kind of being mindful of what you're doing with your research and changing that as you go. 


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Yeah I think it's, you know even as somebody who writes things now professionally, it's really easy once you've written that pepper or that article or whatever it is that you've written to be done with it and submit it and then walk away from it, 


[Tiah laughs]


because you don't want to think about it anymore because you're tired.  So I think, yeah exactly, reflecting on the whole process and keeping track of that. 


Female student:  I can't seem to get from broad terms to good magazines and articles because it's almost like you should start with the articles. 


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Yeah. 


Female student:  And I don't quite know where they are because it's a new subject or a new area that I'm looking into so I don't know what they are but I keep getting just sort of junk, all of the general stuff I could want but nothing that's concrete or printable . . .


Tiah Edmunson-Morton:  Yeah.  Well, and I think that that you are not alone.  I think that's the real challenge.  In a way I think about it like finding that one kernel, that one or two good articles that you can then mine their bibliography or mine their work cited list.  So that's where, is my next slide.  Thinking about, I guess the research and writing process, thinking about all of these things or people as resources.  So that's where when you're stuck and you feel like, "I'm putting in search terms.  I feel like I should be getting good articles out.  I'm getting junk."  That's what the subject librarians are there for is to really help you out of that junk hole. 


[Tiah laughs]


So does everyone know where the subject librarians can be found?  Okay, so let's go back.  So for every subject there is a librarian who has expertise in that subject field.  So if we're back on the main library's page and we go to the staff directory, over on the right (the real right, not right I keep, the left/right being confused about), the real right, you can find subject specialists and subject specialists by college or department.  So if you just click for Subject Specialists you'll get a big long list of all of our names with the subjects next to it.  If you click Subject Specialist By College & Department, that will organize it for you by department and then give you the subject specialists.  So that's what we're here for.  We're here to help you get out of that hole.  So find your subject specialist and contact them through whichever way you want to contact them.  We love email.  We love visitors. 


[Tiah laughs]


Alright, so this is what we were supposed to do today.  I've made them red to see whether we actually have done these things or talked about these things, or you feel confident that these things may be referred to in this big fat printed out non-ecofriendly packet.  So reviewing over it, did we talk about the research process, exploring that topic, focusing, collecting, searching, thinking and reflecting? 


Alright.  So if you did not get signed in when you came in please sign-in.  Just enter the address into the address bar in your browser:  The top [link] is the workshop evaluation form:  So all of the information here that you would need to fill out that workshop evaluation will be there for you.