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Sports & Technology: How to Research

Technologies used in sports-related professions and activities

ISU Library Video Tutorials

Types of Sources

What you are looking for can make a difference in where you should look. Different types of sources offer different information.

Books take about a year to be published. They will not include the latest studies and research. Textbooks and encyclopedias are good for basic information. Further editions of books demonstrate that a source has been updated to reflect new information and may be a standard source in the field. Are there newer editions available?

Reference Books:
Reference books, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, collect accepted facts from the established literature. In health and science, they can be huge and may take years to put together. Therefore, they do not contain the most current information, although they may mention studies that were recent at the the time of publication. But they are a good one-stop-shop to start by learning the basics of a topic.

The latest research is published in journals. It can be difficult to find basic information in journals. Nowadays, most journals have a web site that allows viewing of the table of contents and summaries of articles.

Databases are very useful and efficient for searching through journals. Sometimes they include books, and other sources. Every database follows different rules for searching and storage. Effective use depends on knowing those rules. Commercial medical and science databases commonly provide only summaries of articles and do not include full text. They can be very expensive.

A Model for the Process of Informational Research

Research Strategy

Planning your Research Strategy

You can use the Library Research Planner worksheet to help you plan your research.

Choosing a Topic

You may be writing a 3-5 page basic freshman comp-type paper, a detailed upper-level course in your major, a speech… it doesn’t matter; sooner or later, on your own, or with the help of your classmates, teachers and librarians, you have to decide exactly what you want to write about!

BEFORE you examine the resources below, you need to think about the requirements of the research project. It might help you to organize your thoughts using these steps:

  1. Name your topic: I am studying ___________________________________
  2. Imply your question: because I want to find out who/how/why __________
  3. State the rationale for the question and the project: in order to understand how/why/what _____________________________________________________

[from Booth, The Craft of Research, 1995

You may start with one set of variables filling out the above, but as you do your preliminary reading & researching, you should expect it to change as you refine your final topic choice.

DATABASES can be used to help you CHOOSE topics before you do your in-depth RESOURCE-FINDING. Try TopicSearch. Try Points of View Reference Center. Try CQ Researcher. 

SUBJECT ENCYCLOPEDIAS [many online as well as print] allow you to read overviews of general topics and often suggest narrower topics that would fit your requirements. 

Look for more encyclopedias in the online catalog or the Electronic Resources portal; ASK a librarian!

Visit the BROWSING PERIODICALS (1st floor), choose a general magazine or a subject-specific one and browse several issues to find topics that might work. 

Out on the Internet, head for Google News and see what topics are Trending. Go to major news sites like CNN and look for in-depth reports on topics. Remember to use LEGITIMATE news sites! If you're not sure, ASK a librarian! Debate sites are good places to find topics that are interesting, researchable, and fit into your requirements. Hopefully your teacher will provide you with ideas. If not, ASK a librarian! Topic choice searching is one of the times when Wikipedia comes in very handy!

Also, why not just browse the subject categories of our Subject Guides here on the list? Bet you can find some possibilities! If you're not sure, ASK a librarian!

Identify what your hypothesis or research topic is. What do you know about it? What are the common beliefs and facts known? What are the known treatments or care options? 

In a literature review, you are attempting to find out what is known about your hypothesis or research topic. What do others know through research? What competing theories are available? What relevant research has been done? These are the beliefs and facts that will either support or refute your hypothesis. These are the arguments to which you must respond to validate your research.

Get an Overview

So how do you find out what is known about a topic?

Get an Overview of your Topic. Start with a specialized dictionary, encyclopedia, handbook, textbook, guide, or bibliography to get a brief overview of your topic. Use these to get competing theories, definitions of subject specific terms, an historical perspective, a chronology of events, or useful bibliographic references.

  1. Go to the ISU Library homepage at
  2. On the gray search bar near the top of the page, Click Searches > Classic Catalog


To search for specific print or electronic books owned by the ISU Library, we recommend the following:

  1. Go to the ISU Library homepage at
  2. On the ISU Library homepage,  click Books & More 
  3. Click Advanced Search
  4. In the first search box, select Title and enter the words   encyclopedia OR encyclopaedia
  5. In the second search box, enter search word(s) related to your topic.   sports technology
  6. Click  Submit 
  7. Examine all retrieved records for relevant encyclopedias. Read more detail about a book by clicking on the title of the record.
  8. If the book is electronic, click ISU patrons click here to access full text through Library Electronic Resources
    1. If the book is available online, click ISU patrons click here to access full text through Library Electronic Books. Keep clicking to go to go to the full-text.
    2. If the book is available in print, write down the Call Number and the Location (Reference, ISU Gov Docs, ISU Main Library Stacks, etc.). 
    3. In the ISU Library building, go to the shelving location and use the call number to find the correct book.
    4. If you need only a section of the book, photocopy or scan the section using the (free) scanners or (fee) copiers on the First Floor.
    5. All Print Library Books are located on the library's 2nd and 3rd Floors, except "Reference Books", "Browsing Books", TMC (Children's Books), and Special Collections.

Further Information

Find a book about the topic to gather more information. Books are longer than encyclopedia entries and journal articles. They can tell you what is known about the topic in detail. They take about a year to be published so they will not include the latest information. That step will come next.

  1. Go to the ISU Library homepage at
  2. On the ISU Library homepage, click Books & More
  3. The Catalog window opens.
  4. Click Advanced Search.


If you live on or near the ISU campus, you may want to search the Classic Catalog and its collection of more than two million books, microforms, videos and journal titles.

A sample keyword search in the Library Classic Catalog would be:

eating disorders in the keyword anywhere field
treatment? OR intervention
in the keyword anywhere field


Current Information

Look for journal articles for the latest research. Journal articles are more current than books. They are also shorter and often contain information about only a specific portion of a broad topic. Journals are very important to scholarly research.

      The easiest way to find journal articles is to use the library databases. They have search engines that can be used to search for keywords, words in the title, author name, subject heading or other part of an article.

What kind of topic is it? This will affect your choice of appropriate sources to try.

Try databases from other disciplines, for example...
Care options

CINAHL, Pre-CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, Health Source: Consumer Edition, perhaps PsycINFO and Sociological Abstracts?

Drugs Health Source: Consumer Edition, PDRhealth, Clinical Pharmacology, other pharmacology sources
Medical treatments MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, other medical databases
Nursing administration Health Business FullTEXT, other business databases
Nursing education ERIC, other education databases
Patient attitudes or other psychological states PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, other psychology or sociology databases


Some sources may be more appropriate than others for these topics. If appropriate, don’t forget to check out the Business, Education, Psychology, or Sociology databases.

To find the most commonly used databases in a subject,

  1. Go to the ISU Library homepage at
  2. Click the box labeled Databases
  3. Click Subjects
  4. Use the dropdown to choose your Subject. You may select more than one Subject category.
  5. Click Search.

Internet Resources

The Internet contains a wealth of information but can result in "information overload," if you encounter too much information to digest. And, because anyone can create a Web page, you also may encounter incorrect or misleading information. therefore, it is very important to evaluate your sources.

Use search engines to search the Internet.