⊂ Research Tutorial 04: Using the Library Catalogue ⊃
If you’ve covered modules Concept Mapping and Structuring Your Research Queries then you are ready to begin using the library catalogue. All you need to do is master the catalogue interface then you’ll be able to apply your skills in concept mapping and combining search terms in structured queries to produce more effective search results.
REMEMBER: The Library catalogue can help you find a variety of materials, audio/visual, books (monographs) periodicals, & music recordings, etc. However, it does not contain the records of individual journal articles or book chapters.
1 Getting Started
Locating the Catalogue
The Library Catalogue is always available from top of any library page. It is also available along with other online library search engines in the Catalogue Directory. This catalogue search interface is a web based "graphical user interface" (GUI). It is just one of many GUI’s that you use everytime you fill in an online form, access your bank account, publish a blog entry, use MS Word or evenyour iPod.
Start with the Advanced Search
Before you begin your search, bypass the simple search interface. In a separate browser window or tab go straight to the Advance Search interface of the Library Catalogue.
Notice that the search interface is divided neatly into 2 halves. The top half contains the main search fields. Below the search fields are additional options that you can use to filter and sift your search to produce better results.
2 The Search Interface
Where it’s Located
The top half of of the pages is where the main search features are located. This is where you’ll spend most of you time when searching the catalogue.
3 Search Filters
Search Filters or Limiters are additional catalogue features that allow you to narrow you to narrow your search further than is possible using just a search query. For most on-line catalogues these features will be located below the main search interface.
Understanding how to use these filters or limiters can improve the efficiency of your search queries, improve your results, and save you time.
Features to Note
4 Applying Your Concept Map
Whether you are using the catalogue or a database you need to be able to combine the keywords from the difference concepts that you’ve identified using boolean operators. The advanced search interfaces of most catalogues make this easier — each keyword entry field can be used to correspond to a distinct concept that you’ve identified.
NOTE: If you need more entry fields for your search, then click on the "Add Row" link.
5 Construct a Search Query
Use the example from the module on Structuring Your Research Queries:
- In what way is workplace violence / aggression related to a negative work environment factors such as verbal abuse, ridicule, or racial discrimination.
Concept A workplace institution office organization plant AND / OR / NOT Concept B violence coercion antagonism hostility cruelty aggression AND / OR / NOT Concept C negative environment detrimental surroundings intolerance prejudice adverse atmosphere AND / OR / NOT Concept D factors verbal abuse ridicule racism sexism
Try a search something like this:
But when you enter your query use the advanced search interface. Click on the search button and take a look at your initial results. At the top of the page you will see something like:
words or phrase “workplace” AND words or phrase “aggression” AND words or phrase “environment” OR words or phrase “factors” search found 379 titles.
How how many titles did your search turn up?
- Now try playing with the various filters and changing some of the "record field selectors" on the left column from "words or phrase" to "subject". What changes do you notice in the number of results?
- Now go back and change some of the "boolean operators" on the right column from AND to OR or NOT. How do your results change?
6 Examine the Results List
Make sure that you pay close attention to the different elements of a results list:
7 Evaluate Your Results
Once you have an acceptable number of results, make sure to scan it. Click on a few of the results to examine the record. And ask yourself some critical questions about the results:
- Are all the items relevant to your search?
- Are better keyword and subject terms available for you to use?
- How recently were they published?
- Is the item available or checked out?
- What are the basic parts of the record that you need to form a citation, should you decide to quote or paraphrase material from the item? (Make sure you record this information)
If you are asking these questions, then you’re ready for the next step in the research process: Call Numbers & Retrieving Library Resources.
For a more detailed template on how to evaluate the quality of your information sources review the module on Evaluating Information Sources.