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Phi Theta Kappa Honors Topic: Homelessness

This guide provides resources to support Honors Topic research for the Xi Epsilon chapter at the STLCC Forest Park campus..

Research Process

Develop a research mindset. Think like a researcher. Understand research as a process of asking questions and exploring. 

The quality of your research depends largely on the questions you ask. Practice asking a lot of them. As you begin to explore, you will discover that research can be messy. Expect and welcome twists and turns, keep an open mind, and keep asking questions throughout the process. Use many different kinds of search tools and resources, and conduct many different kinds of searches. 

Research takes time and patience; it can also be fun.

Developing your research skills will enable you to identify a problem, collect information from sources to help address the problem, evaluate sources for quality and relevance, and come up with an effective solution to a problem. These skills are essential for students to succeed academically as critical thinker and lifelong learners. Research skills help individuals write better research papers, craft better speeches, and develop problem solving ability.

Think like a researcher: keep an open mind, be curious. be persistent, patient, maintain high standards, be flexible, explore.

 

Steps in Research

  1. Identify and define your topic. Put your research topic into a question such as, "What is the debate surrounding vaccination refusal?" Now you can identify the main concepts and keywords, including alternate terms, for your topic.

  2. Background reading will deepen your understanding and vocabulary around the topic, which will help you identify search terms and develop an effective research question. Subject encyclopedias (in print or in Credo Reference) are excellent resources. 

  3. Use Search It! or the library classic catalog to find books. Use your keywords to perform both keyword and subject searches. 

  4. Use Search It! or individual databases to find journal articles. Be sure to choose appropriate databases for your topic.

  5. Search for reliable and authoritative website resources. Try the librarian recommended websites on this guide.

  6. Always evaluate what you find. Consider timeliness, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.

  7. Cite your sources. Citing gives proper credit to the authors of materials you use and allows your professors to verify your conclusions. 

Evaluate Information

Evaluating the information you find, whether in print or digital format, is an essential aspect of doing research.

Learn to think critically about the source of information and the information within each source by using the Evaluate Your Sources guide (linked below). Once acquired, the habit of critical analysis will serve you in everything you read. 

Search Limits and Advanced Searching

Search Limits

Search Limits allow you to narrow your searches either to availability of articles or article type or date of publication. Search limits can be found beneath the search boxes on both Basic and Advanced Searches, though Advanced Searches may give you more limits to work with.

  • The Full-text limit is very useful, as selecting it ensures that you will only see articles on your result page which have the complete text of the article included. Unless you are required to find everything out there is published on a given subject, this limit should be applied every time you search.
  • Date limits may also be useful if your instructor has asked that articles to be no older than a certain date, though databases generally start with showing the most recent articles and work backwards anyway.
  • The Scholarly Journals or Peer-Reviewed Journals limit may be useful too, if those are the only type of articles you wish to see. Gale databases, though, generally though categorize articles according to type (see the tabs at the top of results pages on Gale Databases).

Advanced Searching

Advanced Searching is an excellent option to switch to before even beginning a search. In an advanced search, generally, the database provides several search boxes already connected with the word "AND" and often presents even more limit options.

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000