ZSR and the The Writing Center are teaming up to bring you the #myzsr Guide to Finals Week– a weekly series of valuable advice, tried-and-true strategies, and insider information to help you survive THRIVE during exam week! Week One: 5 Research Hacks to Know.

They’re coming. Getting closer. You can feel it in the air, and see it on the faces of everyone around you … DUE DATES! Luckily, ZSR has some research tricks that can help you save time, reduce stress, and maintain your balance, as assignments start to stockpile. So, without further delay…

5 Research Hacks to Know:

1) Get started with a Research Guide!

ZSR Librarians have created comprehensive online Research Guides to help you get started with any research assignment. We offer Research Guides in every academic discipline, and guides for research-related tools (such as our Citation guides and Zotero guide). The guides offer recommendations for relevant databases, journals, and other information resources– all librarian-approved. A great starting point for all assignments!

2) Database Search Tricks

Boolean Operators
Use AND, OR, NOT to combine your search terms, so the database understands what you are looking for. Using AND indicates that all words must be found in the results (ex. violence AND media AND children), using OR indicates that at least one of the terms provided must be found in the results (ex. sea OR ocean OR marine), and NOT excludes results containing a particular term (ex. bears NOT Grizzly).

Use the root part of a word with an asterisk, which will provide search results that include all forms of the root word used (ex. chin* will retrieve China, Chinese . . . religio* will retrieve religion, religions, religious, etc.)

Phrase Searching
Use quotation marks around keyword phrases to indicate that these words be searched as a phrase, in the exact order you type them. Ex. “global warming” OR “stand your ground law” will provide results with both of these exact phrases.

3) Citation Aids

One word– Zotero.
This incredible Citation Manager is free, easy to use, and ZSR offers instruction on how to get started with this software.

Our search interfaces also provide citation assistance through various “cite” functions. You can cite search results from the homepage search by hovering over the item, and selecting “CITE” from the right column.

You can also cite items directly from their record in our catalog. From the item record, select the “* Cite this” option above the featured item. For more help with using these Citation Aids, please Ask ZSR.

**KEEP IN MIND**: With all automatic citation generators, you still need to check these citations to make sure that they conform to their appropriate style guidelines. They give you a starting point, but they may have errors.

4) Target your search results with Filters

Use the filters in the search results page to refine and get more targeted results. You can filter by:

  • Full text online
  • Scholarly/peer-reviewed
  • content type (books, journal articles, magazine articles, etc.)
  • publication date
  • language
  • discipline
  • And much more!

5) Drop in for Research Assistance (and Cocoa)!

Our *cozy* drop-in Research Assistance Sessions– Sources, Citations & Cocoa— are offered during the end of the semester. ZSR Librarians are on hand to provide assistance for students at any stage of their research process– narrowing a research topic, finding scholarly articles and supporting research, and building citations. Oh! And we offer a veritable buffet of delicious treats and beverages to boot! This semester, we are offering Sources, Citations, & Cocoa sessions on:

Mondays from 3:30pm-7:30pm,
starting November 10th and running through December 1st.

Of course, if you can’t make it to any of these sessions, you can always schedule time to meet with a librarian for a Personal Research Session.

Alright! Now that you know how to hack it, hit those books! 🙂