Using a Research Journal Introduction One of the most efficient and effective ways to improve your research skills is to keep a research journal. A research journal is useful for two main reasons: 1 – Recording and Refining – Using a research journal gives you the ability to track the terms and sites you have used for your original searches, thus eliminating and preventing repeats. This same process also allows you to narrow and refine search terms as you learn more and more about your topic. Getting Started 1. Open a blank word document from the Research Journal Template – this should ALWAYS be done electronically 2. Title the document the name of your current research assignment - e.g., Utilitarianism, Obama Good, Hydrogen Neg Recording your searches 1. It is important to record the exact search terms. Search engines have advanced “boolean” operators that can be used for very specific searching functions. 2. Always copy and paste the results URL so you can go back to your results page at a later time. Search Tips 1. Start BROAD. You should begin with background information first, and then narrow your searches. It will be very hard to find specific cards until becoming familiar with the terms of art used in the literature. TAKE NOTES during this process. They will be useful later on. 2. Definitions – sometimes it is also useful to learn how experts in the field define the words in the resolution. You can also use these 3. ALWAYS CHECK DATES – for most research assignments in policy anything prior to this century or even the last 5 years is usually irrelevant. For LD there is not as high a standard for recency, but the newer the better, thoughts develop more clearly over time. 4. Google Scholar!!!!! This source is awesome!!! It searches across multiple databases and journals. It knows when the article you’ve found has been cited by anyone else. Just try it!. 5. Chase footnotes – if you find a very useful passage or quotation in an article, the ORIGINAL author will always be referenced in the works cited section. CHASE THAT ARTICLE, some of the best ways to find sweet cards or just develop an understanding of the trajectory of thought within a discipline is to trace backwards to the original source. Access issues - If you ever come across an article that you cannot access please send Martin the FULL CITATION and a SMALL QUOTE (5 exact words or so) and he can get it for you. It does not matter if they say you have to pay, I can almost always get the article. If i’m unavailable Nathan and Natalie can also help.