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Research Guides@Tufts

First-Year Writing

Tisch Library Guide to Conducting Research for First-Year Writing Classes

How to Use This Guide

Welcome to the Tisch Library guide for First-Year Writing classes. See below for a description of the contents of each page in this guide. To begin your research,

Let's Get Started!

Getting to Know Your Topic - This page helps you to get started doing your research and answers the question, "What do you do if you can't cite Wikipedia?" Find sources on this page that provide short introductions to a variety of topics and that will help you to generate keywords before you start to search library databases.

Evaluating Information - This guide will help you to evaluate the variety of resources you will encounter while doing academic research and will help you to recognize different sources and types of information. Keep in mind that the most important question to ask yourself when evaluating information is "Who wrote it?" When we talk about "authoritative" information, the key part of that word is "author." Once you know who wrote something, you can be a better judge of the nature of that information.

Use JumboSearch - Use the Tufts' Libraries discovery tool to find books and articles. You can limit to online resources only to see the thousands of eBooks, scholarly journal articles, and articles from newspapers and magazines that you have access to.

Use Article Databases - This page includes recommended databases for this class.Keep in mind that article databases don't always include complete copies of the articles they cite, so click the Find it at Tufts button to see if we have an electronic copy.

Cite Your Sources - Learn how to properly cite your research and discover some tools that can help you to manager your citations.

Ask a Librarian - Get more help!

Let's get started!

  1. If you're like most people, you probably start doing research by searching Google. And that's OK!  But if you want to start by searching Google, please look at this page on Evaluating Websites before relying on your Google results.
     
  2. If you find Wikipedia helpful, instead of relying on it for background information and keywords, use Credo Reference or one of the other academic sources on the Getting to Know Your Topic page. For example, a simple search in Credo, such as "Inuit" will provide you with a helpful background article as well as a mind map of related terms and topics. 
     
  3. Combine the keywords that you find in Credo, such as Inuit and rights and Canada, to create a more efficient database or JumboSearch. And remember, when you're using library databases, always connect your keywords with terms like "and" and "or" in order to get better results. For example, this search: Inuit and Canada and rights will produce results that include all three concepts. If you're curious, there are also lots of advanced search strategies that you can use.
     
  4. Limit your results to find what you need more quickly. For example, keep your eye in the column on the left side of the JumboSearch results page. At the top of the column, under "Availability," you can click the link marked Full Text Online to eliminate print materials from your results. Once you've limited to online resources only, you can use the limiters on the left side of the page to choose what type of information you need: A book? A scholarly journal article? A newspaper article? What's the difference?
     
  5. If you need the type of information you find in a book, select Books under Resource Type on the left side of the page. If you don't see Books (or another resource type) in the list, click the Show More link to see them. Once you've selected an eBook on your topic, click the title to find out more about it. Scroll down the page to see a summary and the table of contents. If it looks interesting for your project, click "Online access" underneath the title or the link next to "Full text available at" to open the book.
     
  6. If you need to find a scholarly journal article, click the link marked "Peer Reviewed Journals" under "Availability" on the left side of your results page. Once you've located an article of interest, click the title to find out more about it. Scroll down the page to see a list of subjects associated with that article. If it looks relevant for your project, click "Full text available" underneath the title to open up a complete copy of the article.
     
  7. Be sure to cite your sources! Consult the Citation Support guide for help understanding why we cite, links to print and online guides for the most commonly-used citation styles, and librarian-recommended tools that will make formatting your bibliographies easier.
     
  8. And most importantly, don't hesitate to get help! Contact your librarian directly to ask a question or make a virtual appointment. You can also chat with a librarian from 9am-7pm Monday-Friday or send the library an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.