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Energy Sources: Sci Research

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.

Research Tutorials

Database Tutorials

Feynman: What is Science?

In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. (Don't laugh. That's the truth.) Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what--if this is right, if this law that we guessed is right--to see what it would imply. And then we compare those computation results to nature--or we say compare to experiment or experience--compare it directly with observation to see if it works. 

If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong.

In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.That's all there is to it.” 


Project Tuva  presents science videos whose copyright is owned by Bill Gates, including the Messenger Lectures. This video is from Lecture 7: Seeking New Laws > Chapter 6: How to Look for New Laws. (16:47-18:33) Partial transcript

Feynman, Cornell 1964, “The Character of Physical Law”, Messenger Lectures, grabadas BBC

Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Prize in Physics 1965

The Self-Correcting Nature of Science

The Self-Correcting Nature of Science [Video file]. (2010). Healthy Learning. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from Academic Video Online: Premium.  

"The Self-Correcting Nature of Science features the D.B. Dill Historical Lecture from the 2010 ACSM annual meeting. In a compelling fashion, the [video] reviews the self-correcting aspect of scientific inquiry and details how science has corrected misdirections and expunged errors over the years. In that regard, the [video] explores the ideas and insights of more than a dozen of the most renowned cultivators of scientific thought in the history of mankind."

What is Known

To formulate a theory or a "guess" about the world, it helps to know what is known about the phenomenon. You can do this by observation but you can also find out what others observed or theorized about it. You can do this by finding out what they wrote or said about it.

Be careful searching the Internet for science information. You may retrieve journal articles but, as a student, you may not yet have the background and vocabulary to understand the contents. Don't despair. That will come. It just takes time. Science dictionaries, glossaries, and reference books are helpful. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Feel free to contact the science librarians for help. Some topics are more challenging to find information than others. Your topic may be one of those.

Library Research in the Sciences

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.

Other Resources

Other resources may also be appropriate.

Newspapers - Newspapers can tell you what the general public knows about a topic. They also will occasionally report new or interesting health information.

"Researchers at Indiana State University published a report in the American Journal of Nursing that found..."

You can track down the original article yourself given clues from the newspaper article. Does it say who the researchers are? They probably authored the paper. Does it say what institution is doing the research? Does it mention what publication published the original research? You can use our library resources to search for that author, institution, and publication.

Subject Guide

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Shelley Arvin
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