Writing@CSU Guide

Conducting Electronic Research

An electronic search begins both your investigation and your working bibliography--a list of library, field and online resources-at the same time. The process is keyword driven; the results wholly dependant on the number of words and combinations of words entered into an electronic search field.

Search programs-or engines-are programmed to identify all records containing the word or words entered into their search fields. In various combinations, these keywords will lead you to books, articles, and Web pages that address your research question.

Due to the enormous amount of results this produces, it's important to learn how to shape your search. It might be wise, for instance, to conduct a search of the descriptors-subject headings and subheadings-by which information about your topic is categorized in order to narrow things down.

An extensive list of standard terms used by most online library catalogs can be found in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Most databases and electronic indexes include a thesaurus of helpful keywords as well.

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