Picking your research topic and/or developing a thesis statement can take a bit of research. We like to call it “pre-research”. You begin with an idea or question → you gather background information → you may need to broaden or narrow your topic depending on your search results and/or the specifications of your assignment → REPEAT. It’s an iterative process and it is normal to adjust your research topic as you collect more in-depth information and knowledge about the subject matter. Our Quick Reference resources are great for “pre-research”.
Your research search is a strategy! The subject terms you use, the databases and collections you search in, and the search features you use (or don’t use) can either lead you to satisfying results or leave you at a stalemate. There is an element of way-finding in research– meaning, you need to have an idea of what you’re looking for and where to find it. Don’t know where to start? You can find a subject-specific database, try the recommended resources in our Research Guides, or Ask ZSR! We know our resources, we know what search terms will lead to results, and we are happy to help you develop a search strategy!
Sifting through search results should not feel like drinking water from a fire hydrant. Use the filter options provided by the database you are using to narrow your results and find what you need. Are you looking for more recent studies? You can filter by publication date! Need scholarly resources?? You can filter by articles that have been peer-reviewed! Check out the facets (filter options) that are located on your search results page and use them to help target your results.
Berrypicking is a term that was coined by Dr. Marica J. Bates to describe a cognitive model of information retrieval, whereby the user’s search evolves bit by bit with each resource they investigate, often allowing one resource to lead to the next (Bates, 1989). We love berrypicking! Use your resources to lead you to the next resource! Pay attention to the subject terms or keywords that are being used and the resources that they are citing. Bibliographies are great places to berrypick.
It’s important to develop intellectual credibility by presenting information from reliable resources, and it’s just as important to acknowledge these scholars and their content. We can help you develop the appropriate attribution for your resources. We have online citation guides that can help you get started with formatting your in text and bibliographic citations. We also offer citation workshops and advice for managing and formatting your citations (have you heard of Zotero?? We offer workshops for Zotero, too!).
We are here to help! For further assistance in your research, drop by one of our upcoming research sessions, make an appointment to meet with us for a personal research session, or Ask ZSR. Happy researching, Deacs!
Bates, M. (1989). The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface. Online Review, 13(5), 407-424.