Designing a Research Strategy
Designing a Library Research Strategy
This outline of a research strategy is intended as a general guide, to help you find what you
need with greater efficiency. It can be varied depending on specific needs, but remember to
consider these basic steps.
I. Select your TOPIC; limit it to a manageable scope.
II. Consult an ENCYCLOPEDIA (general or subject specific) for an overview of your
topic. Note keywords or subject terms that can be used in your search. Also, look
for bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia articles. They will lead you to
additional sources of information.
III. Use DICTIONARIES (general or subject specific) for unknown or obscure
words and terms, and for related terms.
IV. REFINE your topic. Using sources gathered so far, clarify the scope and depth of
the subject or problem you want to research.
VI. SEARCH for books and periodical articles.
A. PERIODICALS generally provide more up-to-date and detailed
information. Locate appropriate periodical and newspaper indexes and/or
abstracts, then search these databases.
B. BOOKS and EXHIBITION CATALOGS. Using the author and title
citations you found through the steps above, perform author and/or title
searches in The Library Catalog. You can also perform a subject heading
search if you know the subject heading or a keyword search if you do not.
VII. FOOTNOTES and BIBLIOGRAPHIES. For additional sources check the
footnotes and bibliographies of the books and articles that you found most useful.
VIII. After locating periodical articles and books, you are ready to consider additional
sources to supplement and help you to evaluate your data.
A. BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES should be consulted for information on names
discovered in your search.
B. BOOK REVIEWS assist when evaluating material.
C. DISSERTATIONS are indexed by subject in Dissertations and Theses: Full-Text
and are available digitally or through interlibrary loan if not held by the
University of Texas Libraries.
D. OTHER SOURCES include non-book material, such as IMAGES AND
VIDEOS; CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS; ORAL HISTORIES;
ARCHIVAL MATERIALS; ORGANIZATIONS; GOVERNMENT
DOCUMENTS; and PERSONAL INTERVIEWS, to name a few.
IX. For evaluating and critiquing art, look for the following recommended ART
RESEARCH GUIDES (see the list in the menu to the right).
X. To polish your writing consult one of these WRITING AIDS or PUBLICATION
MANUALS. (see the list in the menu to the right).