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Jackson State Community College -- COLLEGE SUCCESS - Library Research and Information Literacy: Module 1: What Information Do You Need, and Why?

This guide will provide tips and guidelines as to how to successfully use your College library, find resources, evaluate your resources, and use them for your research work

When Do You Need to Find Information?

You know when you need information.  There are many situations when you will need to find resources to provide you with the information you need:


   ♣  When you have a personal interest in a topic

   ♣   When you need the answer to a question, or need information in order to make a decision

   ♣  When you have been assigned by an instructor to find information on a topic for:

                *   An assignment

                *   A paper or essay

                *   A speech or presentation


What Do You Already Know About Your Topic?

Stop and consider -- what do you already know about the topic on which you need information?  You might know a little, or a lot.  Or -- you might think you know a lot about the topic, but your information is actually inaccurate and/or inadequate.


How do you go about solving the problem of finding information on your topic, no matter how much you know or do not know about it currently?


   ♣   Decide what questions you want answered or what you want to learn about your topic

   ♣   Think about your topic.  Are there any aspects of it that most interest you?


You can get quick information on a topic, by going to the JSCC Library website, looking at the box under the large picture titled "Resources," and clicking on the link, Find Reference Sources.   This link will take you to a subject list; Art, Business, General Information, etc.  Click into any one of the subjects that you think will provide you with information on the topic you are researching.  Under each subject link are reference databases; encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other databases.


OR ...  try the JSCC Library's excellent new, multi-topic reference database:  CREDO

Planning How to Research Your Topic

Breaking your topic down into ideas or concepts, which you can use to find information:



Do some planning before you start looking for information.  Think of what you need to find, and consider the major aspects of your topic.


You will probably be using electronic catalogs and databases to do your research work, and will need to type in keywords in order to find the information you need.  


Keywords are created by breaking down your topic into key concepts --  words that relate to the major aspects of the topic you are researching.  You might use only one or two words, or combine words into longer keyword searches using AND, OR, and NOT.  This is called Boolean Logic.  Examples: 


A.   You are looking for information that will help you treat and understand the symptoms of your diabetic cat. 


Keywords:   cats AND diabetes; feline diabetes AND symptoms; (felines OR cats) AND diabetes AND treatment; feline diabetes AND medical treatments; etc.



B.   You need information for an essay about problems that children might have when their parents divorce


Keywords:  children AND divorce; children AND parental divorce AND negative effects; (child OR children) AND divorce AND effects; etc.


  C.   You will be making an informative speech about mainland oil drilling's effect on the environment.


Keywords:  (oil drilling  NOT offshore) AND environment; mainland AND oil drilling AND environment AND consequences; oil drilling AND environment AND (consequences OR effects)


You often will need to make more than one search in order to find adequate and worthwhile information on a topic.  Think of a variety of keywords that fit your topic.