The Meyer Library offers what seems like endless services to students. One of those services is a research consultation. Research consultations can be done either in person or virtually for students who are enrolled in online programs or who are unable to make it onto campus. This service is a great help to anyone looking to gain some direction on a paper or thesis as well as to maximize their usage of the databases. I met with research expert Tracy Stout to get some guidance on my thesis.
Tracy started by taking me to the Library website home page and showing me some of the features it has. Students can search the databases by subject by using the “subject guides” feature. This will limit your search to only psychology journals for example. An alternative to using the library databases is using Google Scholar. Google Scholar knows that you are on campus and have access to the collection of MSU’s databases. Because of this, it will search all of those as well as its regular google database. Google scholar might be useful for someone doing a more general search because it is slightly more user-friendly. The databases may be a better option for someone looking for a specific topic because search results can be narrowed by a number of qualifiers. Google scholar is also more forgiving when using keywords that are misspelled or similar to other keywords. On the databases you can use the “thesaurus” option to help you find better keywords to search for. For example, someone looking to research “road rage” can use the thesaurus option and it will tell them to instead search “aggressive driving behavior.” The databases also allow you to create a list of articles by selecting the folder option in the top right of the page. These articles can be saved or emailed to you. Additionally you can save a search query and set up alerts for it. This means that any time a new article is added that would be found under your search query you will get an alert to go look at it.
Another great feature the library offers is unlimited inter-library loans for graduate students. If you are searching for an article and you come across one that you do not have access to, you can use the inter-library loan feature to order a copy free of charge. This will help to ensure that you have a more complete literature review.
Finally, if you ever have a quick question you can use the “ask a librarian” feature on the library home page. This feature allows you to email, text, or chat with a librarian. This is very helpful for last-minute or quick questions that you don’t want to have to go to the library to get answered. The research consultation was a great experience that helped me learn a lot about how to maximize my search engine use. I now feel ready to tackle my thesis! – Alise Kottman
Alise is a graduate student in the I/O Psychology program and a Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College.