Home » Welcome to The Information Age » Do you know what you’re looking for?

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“Research is formalized curiosity.
It is poking and prying with a purpose”
Zora Neale Hurston,
Dust Tracks on a Road

Do you know what you’re looking for?

You know how to do research, right?

You search the Web. You get 10,000 hits on your topic.

But... what if you need an eyewitness account of something that happened in 1952? The Web doesn't usually have older information.

What you really need is a newspaper article from 1952 — and it's not available on the Web (yet).

You know how to do research, right?
You go to the library and look up books. They have hundreds of books about your topic.

But... what if you're supposed to be finding recent research experiments in biology? The books may be too old... and too long.

What you really need is a scholarly article from a biology journal.

You know how to do research, right?
You look through the article databases on GALILEO. They have 472 articles on your topic.

But... what if you want just some basic background information on the topic? You don't have hours to spend looking through all those articles.

What you really need is an encyclopedia or other reference source to bring you up to speed on the topic.

So how do you know all of that? How do you know where to look for what?

Information comes in many packages, including books, articles, Web sites, videos, radio, and even just a conversation. Once you've chosen a topic, your next step in research is figuring out which "package" contains the information you need. To do this, you'll want to understand how information flows — how new information is created, packaged, and made available.

This section will help you figure out what you're trying to find. Once you know that, the next sections will show you how to find it.

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