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STHS 201: Alchemy, Astronomy, and Medicine Before 1700

STHS201 Research @ Collins Library

Use this guide to get started with your research for STHS 201!

Ancient Persian Waterclock from Qanats of Gonabad (via Wikimedia Commons)

The research process is just that: a process. A good researcher isn't someone who puts the right words in the search box the first time; it's someone who uses each search to improve the next one. By being aware that you'll circle back and perform tasks more than once, use more than one tool, and look at more resources than you'll actually use, you'll be better equipped to plan how long your research takes and pick the best sources. Remember to use the citations of a good source to find more sources, as if you were building a chain.

Whenever you're reading an article or book, or as you get oriented with an encyclopedia or other reference work, keep an eye out for citations to interesting sources. A well-cited scholarly source on your topic is like a ready-made search, leaving you with more energy to spend on using those sources.

Knowledge Management Tools

Knowledge management tools are indispensable in large research projects.  They will help you keep accurate track of your sources and notes as well as cite your sources in common citation styles. Collins Library supports two knowledge management tools:  RefWorks and Zotero.

RefWorks is especially good if you typically use a variety of digital devices throughout the week.  For example, you might use your tablet and smart phone, one of the computers in your residence hall, computers in the library, etc.  You can access your RefWorks account from any digital device that is connected to the internet. Whenever you save materials to your RefWorks account, the information is saved to multiple, geographically dispersed server farms, so the possibility of losing your data is close to zero.

Zotero is particularly good if you tend to use just one device.  It works as either a browser plug-in or a standalone app.  While it is possible to sync your account with the Zotero server, Zotero itself maintains that syncing is not a true backup method and encourages you to regularly make your own backup copies.

If you start out using RefWorks and later decide you'd rather use Zotero (or vice versa), it's easy to transfer your data.