Answer to How does a reference librarian know where to look for sources for a topic she may know nothing about?

Try to get back to the member, rather than searching in front of them.

2. Use Google Scholar and branch your searches to get an idea of what the member is looking for.

3. Once you have a gist, use Wikipedia and Creedo Reference/ dictionaries/encyclopedias to get a basic outline of the structure of the question.

4. Dive into your regular databases.

Example: I had a prof email me about finding the “igen code for an author” that would tell him how reliable a work was. Google Scholar helped correct the spelling problem (Eigenfactor, not code) and the misunderstanding about what it was useful for ( journals, not authors)

By using several different search terms in Google Scholar and going down multiple pathways in my searches I was able to figure it out. You will pick this up really fast, especially when you get comfortable with the e-resources at your institution. A lot of difficult questions can be answered by knowing how information is structured within the particular field, so it’s good to note how papers, books and the eresources are put together and published. I’m new in the field myself, so shoot me a question if you’d like more help.


Originally answered on Quora


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