Want to make your web searching more efficient and flexible? Consider investing a little time consulting books about your topic before you search for journal articles and other information using a search engine or online database. Both reference books and books about your topic can help.
Scanning a condensed article about a topic in a reference book provides you with a foundational understanding of the topic, familiarizes you with key concepts and words associated with it, and highlights related sub-topics and/or significant events and people. This has a number of benefits…
- It creates a framework in your brain to organize ideas you glean from future reading.
- It helps you identify potential research paper topics within a broad topic (strands that create tension, controversy, or raise compelling questions).
- It provides you with a rich word bank of potential key words for searching.
Consulting a book focused on your topic (or an aspect of it) can also prove beneficial. Even if you don’t read the entire book, scanning the table of contents and index, and reading a few pages can shift your perception from viewing your topic as a list of facts or a timeline of events to seeing the story behind the topic (or the larger story of which it is part) and stories are one of the most natural ways to learn, remember, and convey information.
Of course, books can be found in lots of places – in print format on library shelves, in the Gale Virtual Reference Library, and in Google Books and similar places. You can search library shelves from your computer by doing the following…
- Click on the Catalog search @ MW in the Links menu on this page to search the MW library shelves.
- Go to the VCU Libraries page and click on the catalog search at the top to search their shelves.
- Go the the libraries tag in the dragonlibrary bookmark account (in the Finding Sources bundle near the top of the tags list) to find a link to search the shelves of your local public library.