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IS - Research: When Are You Done?

Research can be almost endless. There are some subjects which could take a lifetime to research, and you still wouldn't be finished. So, how can you tell when to stop?

First of all, if the amount of material seems overwhelming, you have probably chosen far too broad a subject. Your topic should be narrow enough that you can locate and read most of the material written on the subject before it is time (remember your timeline?) to start writing the first draft.

Your research should include at least the following general areas:

  • Books on the topic or which include the topic
  • General periodical indexes for past ten years
  • Subject area periodical indexes for past ten to twenty years
  • Any encycopedias, handbooks, almanacs, etc. that are pertinent
  • Follow up on all promising footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies included in each book and article you read
  • Use a citation index if possible and identify all the authors who write regularly on your topic
  • If appropriate, use the library's vertical files
  • If time is left, check dissertations on the topic

These parameters will probably be different if you are doing historical research. You may have to go back 100 years in the indexes.

In addition, you should probably interview some people about the topic and visit some relevant locations. You will then have quotes and personal observations to add to your research.

Now let's look at
The Research Paper

line of books

Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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