Start with Keywords
All research begins with the language that you use to think about your topic. This language provides keywords, that is, the natural language you use to describe your research topic. Develop a simple concept map of your topic using keywords to begin your search for books, DVDs, and other material in the Doane Library catalog. Remember, you can search the Library catalog from home 24/7!
Here is a sample keyword concept map to begin research on Italian Renaissance portraits:
|Concept of place or time||Concept of material/technique||Concept of subject|
A subject heading is a descriptive phrase librarians assign to an item to describe its contents or subject. Finding the subject heading that leads to the information you need can be one of the most difficult aspects of doing library research. The keywords you use to describe your topic may not be the same words or in the same order as the subject headings used in the online catalog. If you were looking for book on German painters, you could search for keywords "German painting" or use the subject heading, “Painting--German.”
Although they are complicated, subject headings are really useful. Always start your search by using keywords of concepts as described in the example above. From the catalog results list, find an item of interest and click on the full record to see the subject headings assigned to that item (upper right corner). Click on the relevant subject heading to retrieve more items in the same category. Be sure to keep track of particular phrases that narrow or broaden your results.
Many subject headings provide detailed information about the item's contents. If you are not getting good results with your keywords, try to find the Library of Congress subject headings that best describe your subject and then search those in the Doane Library catalog. If you don't find what you need at the Doane Library, try searching the same keywords and subject headings in the catalog but select Libraries Worldwide from the drop-down box for Libraries to search.
Always remember to ask a Librarian if you need help finding materials for your research.
Check the library catalog for other reference books on your topic.