The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know

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9780691131504: The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know


To do solid academic research, college students need to look beyond the computer search engine. This short, practical book introduces students to the important components of the information-seeking process. The Elements of Library Research provides a foundation for success in any research assignment, from a freshman paper to a senior thesis.


Unlike guides that describe the research process but do not explain its logic, this book focuses entirely on basic concepts, strategies, tools, and tactics for research--in both electronic and print formats. Drawing on decades of experience with undergraduates, reference librarian Mary George arms students with the critical thinking skills and procedures they need to approach any academic project with confidence.



  • Ways to turn a topic into a research question

  • Techniques for effective online searches

  • How to evaluate primary and secondary sources

  • When and how to confer with reference librarians and faculty

  • How to avoid plagiarism

  • Glossary of key terms, from Boolean search to peer review

  • Checklists, timelines, and hints for successful research projects


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From the Inside Flap:

"Mary George offers a lively, succinct, and readable introduction to the work involved in planning a library research project. The book does an excellent job demonstrating that thought and creativity are required at every stage--from formulating questions and finding texts, to writing critically about them."--Joseph Harris, Writing Program, Duke University

"This book is based on the simple premise that college-level research need not be anxiety-inducing. Mary George does a good job explaining that the student can control the research process with practice and thoughtful reflection."--Emily J. Horning, Yale University Library

"This handbook is an important addition to the field of research guides. Librarians and those with research instruction responsibilities will certainly use it, and college students will benefit immensely from it. This resource will be useful to anyone who needs or wants to understand the intellectual underpinnings of the research process."--Denise M. Shorey, Main Library, Northwestern University

"This book is unique--in its brevity, its basis in our best understanding of the research process, and its focus on the thought processes associated with information gathering and synthesizing. This guide does a creditable job pulling together various veins of thought and presenting the content in a way that is consistent with current pedagogy on the research process."--Thomas G. Kirk, Lilly Library, Earlham College

"I have been trying to locate just such a book, so that students can begin their academic career with an easy to use, short guide to the research process. This will be an indispensable addition to both high school and college-level research."--Paula Clancy, Bunn Library, The Lawrenceville School

"This book has the advantage of being widely applicable and generally useful for many fields. Mary George points out that research is not just to learn old knowledge but to generate new knowledge, understandings, and perspectives."--Kendall Hobbs, Olin Library, Wesleyan University

About the Author:

Mary W. George is acting head of reference and senior reference librarian at Princeton University Library. She is the coauthor of "Learning the Library: Concepts and Methods for Effective Bibliographic Instruction".

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George, Mary W.
Published by Princeton University Press (2008)
ISBN 10: 0691131503 ISBN 13: 9780691131504
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Mary W. George
Published by Princeton University Press (2008)
ISBN 10: 0691131503 ISBN 13: 9780691131504
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