- Dec. 15, 2020
-- Lynn Bentley, President of Knobull, Inc. announced, "As you begin to find information using Academic Search Engines like Knobull, keep an eye out for the "big names" in your research area-for example, key people and organizations. Notice the names of people who are often quoted in the news; scholars who are doing research on your topic and the universities with which they are affiliated; activists and leaders working on a political or social issue; spokespersons and influential figures.
Then, search for books and articles written by them. If a person has spoken at a conference, find out if the conference proceedings are available on a web site, or in an online library. Check the bibliographies and footnotes in the books and articles you come across, and see if our library holds the materials cited by them.
Find out if there is a local or national organization related to your topic. See what information is available on its web site. You might contact the organization by phone or email to find out what information they provide to the public, and whether they have staff that can assist you in getting more information. Municipal, state, and federal government web sites tend to post a lot of valuable information, including statistics and reports. Use us to find books that are organized using the Library of Congress Classification system.
Subjects and keywords for books usually describe what the whole book is about--the main topics, not every topic covered. In the article databases, the subjects will describe what the article or chapter of a book is about. This means you can sometimes do the "needle in a haystack" searches in the article databases. That kind of search rarely works as well in the library catalog.
Academic Search accesses databases that covers many subjects as well as a subject-specialized database (e.g., Communication and Mass Media Complete for communications, MLA Bibliography for literature). The same search phrase entered in two different databases may bring up very different results. If your topic encompasses more than one major subject area-business and art, for example- try searching both a business database and an art database.
Ask Knobull, your online reference desk, for our recommendations. Try different phrases; try the same search across multiple databases. Don't be content with the results of one search.
Bentley concluded, "Don't spin your wheels and waste a lot of time if you get stuck or encounter something confusing. Using the Knobull Contact Page can save you time and help you find better information, more efficiently. For example, we can suggest the best databases for your topic. We can also show you the most efficient way to search for articles by a particular author. We can advise you on search strategies and techniques tailored to your topic."