Outlines are valuable at many stages of research!
Tracking your research helps you keep a record of what you have done, what you found, as well as a space to take notes about your searches.
These are also helpful when you've taken a break from working on a project -- notes help make it easier to pick up a project again!
You can use a journal, a spreadsheet, a running document -- as long as it documents what you do.
Creating a search string takes practice! You can break down your search into steps:
More on Boolean Operators
There are three Boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT.
AND will make your search more precise and narrow, so you will get fewer results.
OR will make your search more broad, so you will get more results.
NOT excludes phrases from your search. Use NOT very carefully, or not at all, because it can unintentionally exclude relevant results.
More on Writing a Search a Database Will Understand
After you come up with your concepts, string them together with the Boolean Operators.
So if I wanted to search for the history of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as well as the use of almond butter in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I might have a search string like:
("peanut butter" OR "almond butter") AND (jelly) AND (sandwich).
Citation managers help you manage your citations!
I recommend Zotero -- because you can use it for free now, and if you want to use that research after you graduate (for example, you are going to graduate school), you can take it with you.
There's a lot more about citation mangers on the Citation Mangers & Citation Styles tab!
The IU Libraries partner with hundreds of Libraries across the world! If you have found an item, there's a good chance we can find a way to help you borrow it through Interlibrary Loan. Learn more about ILL in the tutorial below.