Tips For The Class: Finding Sources and Articles

We've provided a number of sources on a variety of topics to get you started in your research. Chances are, however, that you're going to need to delve deeper into these topics, and likely deeper into narrower portions of these topics, to get the information necessary to contextualize your project. This will mean finding sources outside of those that are provided in this library.

For example, we have a section in this library on project-based learning. Project-based learning is a massive field, however, and you're going to likely want to implement it within some particular context, like middle school ecology or graduate-level computer science. That will mean drilling down into how that methodology has been used specifically for those groups.

Finding sources can be difficult, however. Here are some tips we've picked up over the years:

Tip #1: Use Google Scholar

If you're not familiar with Google Scholar already, you're going to fall in love with it very quickly. Google Scholar is Google's search engine for academic publications (as well as patents and some other formal information). It gives you the ability to filter by dates, and generally has a pretty good keyword search. It may not find you exactly the article you want, but it will usually find you one that will help you get started with the next couple tips.

Note also that you can use Google Scholar to search for specific authors as well using the author search tool. For example, here are the search results for my name, and here is my author page on Google Scholar.

Tip #2: Follow the Reference List

Once you've found one article that's at least close to what you want to find, go to its reference list. You'll typically find dozens of references to other articles. With luck, one or more of these will be closer to what you actually want to find. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, you can follow these citation lists through the history of a community.

Some article hosts will actually parse and show the references as hyperlinks to those articles elsewhere on the host or on the internet. Other times, you'll need to return to Google Scholar and search for the title.

Tip #3: Follow the Authors

Similarly, just as you can use an article's reference list to find similar articles that might be closer to what you want, you can also simply trace back through the author's own publication history. Search for the author's name, and you'll generally find either their personal web site with their CV and articles or their profile on some aggregator, like Google Scholar or ResearchGate. Then, you can go back through their own articles.

For example, you might at some point come across an article that builds on a claim the author has made in the past. That claim made in the past might actually be what you want to read about, so look back through that author's publication history to find when they may have originally made that claim.

Tip #4: Use the Georgia Tech Library

Oftentimes when you're searching on Google Scholar, you'll come across many articles which you cannot directly access. Sometimes the abstract gives you all you need to know, but other times you want to see the rest of the article. In these cases, the Georgia Tech Library will often have a subscription to that journal, allowing you free access to the article so long as you're logged in through the library. See the library web site for more information.

Remember, though, that when accessing articles that require your Georgia Tech login, you shouldn't share them with any non-Georgia Tech students.

Tip #5: Ask!

If there's some topic about which you're interested in learning more but you just can't seem to find some information, don't hesitate to ask! Ask on the class forum especially: your classmates may have found some sources in which you'd be interested, and they might be interested in what you find as well. That may also help you find other people with similar interests for future collaborations.