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Boatwright Memorial Library

FYS 100: Storytelling & Identity (Dolson): Getting Started

Getting Started

In the beginning of your research, it's helpful to learn just enough about the topic to get a basic overview. If you were just getting started, where would you look for background information on the history of segregation Richmond's schools? Where would you look to find out about why Confederate monuments were built in Richmond and across the US? What names, terms and topics might you use in your search? When we first start collecting sources, we may not know what exactly is useful for us. Think about casting a wide net and then decide what is most useful once you start evaluating your sources for your annotated bibliography. Depending on what your research question is you may draw from numerous types of sources- scholarly books or articles, news media, or even encyclopedia entries. How many sources you need, really depends on what question you are trying to answer- and what types of sources will be most helpful, and what you need to fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

  •  Try searching OneSearch is the library catalog, there you can search almost everything in the library at once- books, media, news sources, scholarly journals, and more. How can you find a book in the library that says it is "available"? Many of these materials will be available in the stacks. You will see a call number that indicates a physical location where you can find it. How do I request a book in Onesearch? Use our item retrieval services. Many of the materials are also accessible online! Just click on the links and they will bring you to the article or book and if it leads you nowhere, contact a librarian. 

  • Use Library databases smaller collections of scholarly articles, news sources, images, media and more, which may be organized thematically on different topics.

  • Google Scholar - a resource for both scholarly and non-scholarly articles. If you are on campus, you will find links to scholarly articles in our databases.

Search Tips:

  • What is the best way to narrow down your search results when looking for sources about a specific research topic? Break down your topic into a few key words or phrases which you can use to search for materials. If you aren't finding exactly what you are looking for, try to think of as many different variations of the terms or combine them. Think a variety of broad and specific terms. Example: segregation in Virginia schools
  • Use some of the reference sources that will give you background and overview information.
  • Think about the types of resources you are looking for (books, chapters, images scholarly articles, news, etc.)
  • Look at the library's other research guides on different topics and types of sources including history, education, sociology, and the Richmond resource guide.
  • If I am unable to access or find a text I need in the library what should I do? If you can't find an article or book you need, check out our service called interlibrary loan - we can request materials from other libraries if we don't have them at UR.

Recommended Reference Resources

Encyclopedia Virginia is free "user-friendly resource on the history and culture of Virginia. Encyclopedia Virginia anthologizes the best and most current scholarship that exists on a given topic. A project of Virginia Humanities in partnership with the Library of Virginia, EV publishes topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited to be accessible to a general audience, and vigorously fact checked." It also contains primary sources.

Example: segregation in Virginia's schools

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