The topics you choose for your senior independent study will dictate looking outside relatively generic information tools such as EBSCO and Britannica. You will have to think outside the box and look at your topic from many different informational directions in order to locate viable sources. The first stop on the SIS trail will be refreshing your memory of how to conduct a research project .
After you decide on a topic, search the World Book or the Encyclopedia Britannica (both are available online and can be accessed from the library’s Databases & Online Books web page). Read one general encyclopedia article outlining your topic, if possible. However, your basic information does not necessarily need to come from a general encyclopedia. The McClain Library has many, many specialized encyclopedias on a myriad of topics-everything from Cryptozoology to world religions to Mesoamerican cultures. For some of you, your general information will come from your summer experience. Think back on what you learned. Take notes on the basic facts of who, what, when, why, and where. These will now function as your keywords.
Now begins the real work. Start with the notes you took from the general encyclopedia article (or your general information work), and begin to fill in the missing details. Maybe a biography or autobiography of the individual credited with your event would be helpful. Or, perhaps the “how” of your topic is still a bit sketchy. Break the larger event down into its smaller components to help focus your paper and search for sources that chronicle the events leading up to, during, and after your topic. Glean the “how” from this. Did the “where” affect your event? If so, how and why did location affect the final outcome? It is helpful to make a list of questions of what information you need to find to help you focus your research.
The bulk of your research should come from print resources (books, e-books, journal, newspaper, and magazine articles). Stay away from random Google pages and Wikipedia. These are NOT reliable, academic sources.
After gathering some keywords to help you search for information, a good place to start looking is the McClain’s online library catalog. Look for your list of keywords in both the table of contents and the indexes of your sources. If you find that you are having trouble locating sources ask either Mrs. Allison or Mrs. McClain for help. Photocopy all title pages and their versos so that you can format your MLA bibliographic citations.
Alexandria might tell you that a book is an electronic source and available at NetLibrary. Don’t panic, and for goodness’ sakes, don’t discount the source! To access NetLibrary, first, point your browser to the EBSCO icon on the library's homepage. Click e-books. You will be asked to create your own account (username and password). Please make your username and password SOMETHING YOU WILL REMEMBER. Next, type in the title of the book (that you got from Alexandria), and viola! The entire book, every word of it, will appear. Magic!
Don’t forget to search the Gale e-book products, too! They are searchable from the library's homepage (the search box is on the left side of the page).
For heavy, in-depth research on your topic, check out the academic journal articles indexed in JSTOR . All articles are written by scholars in a field of research. Though challenging, these publications are rich sources of information. TEL's Academic OneFile and EBSCO's Academic Search Elite also allows users to limit their searches to refereed sources.
Remember you will have to go off campus to find print sources on your topics. If you need to use the University of Memphis’ library, please stop by and see Mrs. Allison for a permission slip. You will not have access to the McWherter unless you have this slip filled out and it has been signed by you, your folks, and me.