Research Strategies for Academic Research

The internet is useful, but suffices in only rare cases because some of the best indexing and abstracting services are proprietary. The traditionally used sources are still needed, though most can now be accessed through the internet.

Most useful and widely used in searches before the advent of the internet are:
•    Consultation
•    Traditional indexing and abstracting services and
•    “Footnote chasing” (Tracking down the cited references in articles on the topic of interest)
Browsing through library shelves and citation indexes were more helpful but less widely used.

The most helpful and widely used strategy involved consulting others: persons who regularly share information with you, contacts at conventions and with other students and formal requests to those active in the field. Once you have located who these persons are, you can contact them through phone, email, or correspondence. You may find contacting information in the directories of professional organisations.

The next most useful strategy identified was a hand or computer search of indexing and abstracting services such as ERIC, Psychological Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, and the other citation indexes. Citation indexing is rarely used as compared to traditional abstracting services.

Browsing the library shelves had a higher combined rating. As with consultation, the particular library collection you are browsing represents the selections of a particular librarian and / or faculty. Depending on the arrangements your library has with others, and / or your skill in attaining access on the internet, you can browse by Library of Congress catalog number in the online catalogs of some of the best research libraries in the country.

Citation indexes result from copying all the references cited in each article of the journals covered and merging them into a single list ordered alphabetically by the person cited. Thus, if you look up an author and title of an article in the citation index, you can find the journal articles that included it in their references.