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Basic Library Research & Writing: 10. So You Need More Information...

Research

I need more information!

How can I find more information? Here are some other techniques you can try:

Footnote Chasing

Footnote chasing, also known as "following the footnote trail" or "citation mining" is an additional way that you can find information on your topic. Lets say that you have an article containing information that is useful to your project. That article may cite yet other resources that are useful as well! This is a great way to find additional resources that provide more information and/or further support your position. Therefore, always look at the footnotes, the endnotes, and/or the bibliography of a helpful resource. Citations from resources taking an opposing view can even lead to information supporting your point! Please keep in mind that footnote chasing will always take you back in time to information that was produced prior to the resource you are currently looking at.

Citation Pearl Growing

On the other hand, citation pearl growing can lead to more recent information. By doing a search in a database for the citation or perhaps more simply for the title and possibly author of a helpful resource, you can then find more current information that has cited this resource. This newer resource supply additional great for your project, plus there may even be more footnotes & citations to refer to.  Can I hear a "Hey Ya!" 

One Perfect Source Myth

Despite all your hard work, you may run into a situation where there is no perfect source for your topic. This can happen if no one has previously found or discovered the information you are looking for, or perhaps the topic is new and you need to find an authoritative source (perhaps from a peer reviewed journal) on the topic.  What are you going to do?

Keep in mind this is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, this is your project, its possible that you could be putting down in writing something no one else has! What you need to do is to support your argument with information and/or examples which are pertinent. Here are two examples:

  1. Your topic is about the NFL Concussion Crisis, wherein football players are suing the National Football League for head injuries, which could bankrupt the NFL. This lawsuit just arose last month (hypothetically), and while there are plenty of newspaper articles on the topic, there are no peer reviewed journal articles. What can you do? One approach you can take is to find peer reviewed articles on what causes concussions. If hard blows to the head cause concussions, possibly even while the injured is wearing head protection, this type of information may be very relevant to your topic.
  2. You are writing a paper about managing nurses in a hospital setting. You cannot find information regarding the particular management technique as applied to nurses that you want to write about. Instead, you can find information about how this technique has been used in other settings (the more similar the better), and then show how this technique could then by applied to nurses in hospitals. 

Ask

If you are still having problems finding information, ask a librarian or your instructor for help. And don't put off either researching or asking to the last minute! No one is going to do your research for you, Even if you can find the information locally that you need (and do not need to use interlibrary loan), you still need to write your paper!

 

-Mark Allan