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Using the Library: Research Help

All about the Library's resources and how to use them.

Need additional help with your research? Contact us!

Need assistance with your research or utilizing library resources?

Make a 1:1 appointment with our Library Staff by visiting our Bookings Page and be connected with us for more assistance!

About Library Guides

For help with a research assignment or understanding Library resources, use our LibGuides!

Shaw's librarians create online guides (like this one) to help you use the Library. Many provide advice and resources for doing research in a particular subject area. Others offer how-to guidance and explain important topics and library resources.

There are LibGuides for every major course of study at Shaw, as well as for most of the course topics available outside of your major. These guides can walk you through how to perform research, and are tailored to fit the needs of your subject.

If you'd like more information on how to use our LibGuides, visit our tutorial here.

Choosing and Refining Your Research Topic

Learn about using research to choose and refine your topic, and ensure it isn't too broad or too narrow.

Search Strategies

Learn about turning your research topic into keywords for a strategic search.

Learn about search tools: AND and NOT for narrowing your search, OR for broadening your search, asterisk (*) for truncation, and quotation marks for phrases.

A few search tips in addition to those offered in the videos on this page:

  • Check out a quick tutorial for help choosing good keywords.
  • Watch your spelling. Not every catalog or database will correct your spelling like Google.
  • Use filters. Filters offer a range of criteria to narrow your search results. Some are available on the page where you enter your search terms, and some are available on the left side of your list of search results. Look out for:
    • Full text - A full electronic copy is available.
    • Peer reviewed - Articles of higher quality for research because they have been reviewed by other experts in the author's field.
    • Format - Whether the resource is a book, article, video, etc.
    • Language - If you only speak English, filter out anything in another language.
    • Publication date - To filter older resources if currency is important for your topic.
  • Check that you are using proper resources
  • Find a good article and use it to adjust your search. Once you find an article that's perfect for your topic, use the following to find more resources like it:
    • Subjects - Sometimes they are even linked enabling an immediate search.
    • Find new search keywords using terms from the resource's title or abstract.
    • References - Find the sources that this resource cites. In a database, they are often linked if available
    • Related items - Some databases suggest other resources that they think are on a similar topic.
  • Save your resources as you go. It's very frustrating to try to find something twice; as you research, save resources that might be useful later. Catalogs and databases provide options for saving, emailing, downloading, and citing their resources. 

For further assistance, please contact us!
Shaw University Libraries - James E. Cheek Learning Resources Center
118 E. South Street - Raleigh, NC 27609
919-546-8407 -

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