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Professional Development for State Employees

Identify a Research Topic

The Conceptualization of Your Research

Research begins with refining a research idea into a research question.

First, a general idea of interest emerges; perhaps from a brainstorming session, an examination of past projects, or a given directive.

Next, a more narrowed and specific topic will need to be defined. Before this is achieved however, a preliminary review of literature will usually be warranted as literature reviews can reveal related factors to help further define the research question.

Review of Literature

"Literature search is a systematic and well-organised search from the already published data to identify a breadth of good quality references on a specific topic. The reasons for conducting literature search are numerous that include drawing information for making evidence-based guidelines, a step in the research method and as part of academic assessment. However, the main purpose of a thorough literature search is to formulate a research question by evaluating the available literature with an eye on gaps still amenable to further research" (Literature search for research planning and identification of research problem).

Determining information needs

With the help of Reference Services' print collection, electronic subscriptions, and lending partnerships, the increasing practice of open access repositories and publishing, and the public domain; the available published information is enormous.

But where is the best place to look for different types of information, from scientific articles to government documents? When should you consider searching outside Reference Services' databases for research resources? To aid in answering these questions, please navigate the following section on this page, "Information Sources." This guide is by no means an exhaustive source.

 

For searching tips and techniques, see the next page "Search Strategies."

Information Sources

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Find Digital Resources by Reference Services.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Find Books by Reference Services

What is a clinical study? by ClinicalTrials.gov

 

AVMA Animal Health Studies Database is a free tool that helps advance scientific discovery and improve medical care by connecting practicing veterinarians and animal owners with veterinary clinical studies.

ClinicalTrials.gov is a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world. It is a resource provided the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Cochrane Library is a collection of databases, including Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. MEDLINE can also be searched within EBSCOhost ("choose databases" > "MEDLINE").

Trip Database is a clinical search engine designed to allow users to quickly and easily find and use high-quality research evidence to support their practice and/or care.

Some conference papers and proceedings can be searched within the ProQuest and EBSCOhost databases, with either abstract and/or full-text availability.

Example of selection strategy within ProQuest:

Search strategy for retrieving conference papers and proceedings within ProQuest database

Example of selection strategy within EBSCOhost:

Search strategy for retrieving conference papers and proceedings in EbscoHost database

 

Couldn't find in the ProQuest or EBSCOhost databases? Try:

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Or: Conference papers and proceedings can be published in various print or digital formats, but can sometimes prove difficult to track down as the materials may only be on a website, in an institutional repository, or in the possession of those that attended.

Website example for retrieving conference papers and proceedings

Digital institutional repository example for retrieving conference papers and proceedings

Accessing State and Federal Resources (recording) by Reference Services.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Federal Government Information by Reference Services.

Library of Congress Catalog contains 18 million records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections.

Missouri Government Publications by Reference Services.

Missouri State Archives and Missouri Digital Heritage

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) preserves U.S. government documents that record important events in American history.

Navigating the Census (recording) by Reference Services.

USA.gov is the official web portal for the U.S. government.

U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) produces and distributes U.S. government information.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Directory of Open Access Repositories (DOAR) Many universities and colleges are now hosting theses and dissertations in their digital repositories. A resource for finding academic repositories is DOAR.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses provides the full text of open access dissertations and theses.

 

You can find many other dissertations and theses for your research needs within the ProQuest and EbscoHost databases.

Example of selection strategy within ProQuest:

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Example of selection strategy within EbscoHost:

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Research reports and technical bulletins are often published by the funder/funding institution, and/or the body that undertook the research. In addition to Reference Services' databases, print collections and digital collection of state agency publications; research reports may be found by searching the websites of research associations/organizations.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Federal Government Information by Reference Services.

Missouri Government Publications by Reference Services.

USA.gov is the official web portal for the U.S. government.

U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) produces and distributes U.S. government information.

Government, agency and organizational websites are good sources for statistical information and datasets.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the primary statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Justice and disseminates information on crime, those who commit crime, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.

Census.gov includes mapping and data extraction tools for U.S. social, demographic and economic statistics.

CIA World Factbook provides information on the history, people and society, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Data.gov is the gateway to searching and discovering U.S. government data.

Department Guides for Missouri State Agencies by Reference Services.

Federal Government Information by Reference Services.

Find Articles by Reference Services. When searching databases, add additional keywords, such as; statisticstrendsdata, ect., to your search string.

Monthly Bulletin of Statistics Online publishes economic and social statistics for most countries and territories of the world. The statistics in this resource are obtained by the Statistics Division of the United Nations and the international statistical services from official sources in the countries.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) offers easy access to substance use and mental health data for analyses.

Can't find what you're looking for? Let us help! 

Request books or articles by submitting our interlibrary loan form. Reference Services staff will quickly track down your requests through our worldwide network of libraries. 

Receive articles straight to your email or books to your office by your usual delivery option.

Questions? Ask us at libref@sos.mo.gov or 573.751.3615. 

Make an interlibrary loan request

Beware ghostwriting and other fraudulent activity. Past examples showcase the use of political influence and collusion with government agencies, ghostwriting, corrupt academia, and the failings of the peer-review process.

Helpful Hint: When reviewing literature, pay close attention to the Theoretical Framework/Methods and Analysis sections of research articles as most false findings are due to poor study design.

Researcher's Bootcamp Training Archive by Reference Services

search key on keyboard

Delve into the world of research with the Researcher's Bootcamp. In these sessions you will learn how to create a search string, use reliable research resources, find law and legislation, and use reference managers to keep your research organized. The session order is as follows:

1. Conducting Internet Research Part 1

2. Conducting Internet Research Part 2

3. Finding Laws and Legislation

4. Reference Managers