Assignment Research Calculator

Henry Madden Library

Step 4 - Find, Review, and Evaluate Books

Key points
  1. Use the Catalog to locate books and other materials on your topic.
  2. Set up a note taking system that works for you.
  3. Understand how to evaluate the information that you are finding.

Library Books in ShelvesNow you are ready to begin the research process. Remember to be flexible! As you begin to locate books, articles, and web resources, you will need to evaluate them, reassess your research topic, and decide if you have enough information.

A good place to begin your research is the Library Catalog, which is an electronic database of all material owned by the Library. This includes books, dvds, cds, government documents, journal titles, musical scores and more!

The information timeline explains how an event relates to the publication

A general information cycle timeline.

Keep in mind that if your research topic is very new, you might find more information in journal articles rather than in books.

Before searching the catalog, a helpful task is to breakdown your research statement into keywords that can be searched in the catalog. Try Arizona State University's Search Strategy Tutorial to learn how to recognize and use keywords.

Searching for Books

The four main ways to search the catalog are keyword, subject, title and author. A keyword search retrieves the most results because it searches for the word throughout the entire catalog. A subject search is more focused because it looks for the word in a specific field. If you know of an important author in your field of study, you can search by that person’s name.

Keyword Search

Catalog keyword search results for the words


Subject Search

Catalog subject search results for


Author Search

catalog author search results


Title Search

Catalog title search results

For detailed information on the online catalog, you can take the tutorial "Searching, Finding and Evaluating Books" located in Blackboard.

How to request books that are not available in our catalog

Link+ is an online catalog of more than 50 academic and public libraries, from which you can request books that are unavailable at our own library. Click here to request books from Link+.

How Are You Doing with Your Research So Far?

Based on what you are finding in the catalog, do you need to change or revise your topic? Do you need to change terms? Some instructors require that you use a certain number of sources. Are you finding enough information? For example, searching our catalog under the term “tongue piercing” has only one record, however, searching under the term “body piercing” results in many more.

Note taking

It is important to take accurate notes on the resources you are finding and using. Whether you choose a pen and paper or an online system of note-taking, be sure to:

An excellent summary of the note taking process can be read at Academic Integrity at Princeton: Working Habits that Work.

Evaluating Information

You need to evaluate the information you are finding. It is an essential part of the research process! Consider these five criteria:

For further information on evaluation, see the following site: