finding the right sources

With less than a month left of classes, deadlines for final papers and projects are fast approaching. Wondering where to start? You’re not alone! On Wednesday, April 4 from 12-1PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, the research librarians held a special workshop on finding the right sources to help you complete your work. Couldn’t make it? Wondering what you missed? Read on for lots of great information!

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a delicious (and free!) lunch, research librarians Bonnie Vigeland, Rachel Beckwith, and Caro Pinto guided attendees through the library website, highlighting important resources to make their research more successful. Each librarian spoke about different databases, how best to use them, and techniques for identifying and refining research topics. At the end of the session, participants had the opportunity to ask questions about their specific research needs, and the librarians guided them through various options for finding relevant resources.

What We Learned:

  • Hampshire subscribes to multiple databases that can help with your research, which can help you yield text, video, audio, and image results that you won’t be able to find in normal internet searches. These databases are designed to help you find scholarly sources (in manageable quantities!) that will aid in your research process. For instance, a search of “California” and “immigration” in JSTOR will offer 54,000 results, as opposed to Google’s 169,000,000. You can save yourself valuable time by going straight to the databases when starting your research.
  • Do you know about LibGuides? LibGuides are subject-based database lists that are created and maintained by the research librarians for each subject area. Already know that you’re planning to research something related to architecture? Let the Architecture LibGuide be your starting point. Have a question for the research librarian in a particular area? The contact information for the librarian who maintains each LibGuide is docked on the right side of the page. Ask away!
  • Think you need a definitive topic for your paper or project before you can start researching? Think again! If you have a vague idea of what you might like to explore, you can do some preliminary research to see what others in the field are talking about. Found an article that’s exactly what you’re looking for? Use the search keywords in the article listing to help you find more sources like it. Better yet, check out the bibliography of the initial article to further refine your results.
  • When conducting research through Hampshire’s databases, the more common problem is finding too much. You don’t need 50 articles for a 10 page paper. Continue to refine your searches to yield the best results, and to develop a manageable list of sources to guide your work.
  • Want to browse the comprehensive list of databases to which the Hampshire library is subscribed? If you’re looking for a specific database, the A-Z listing can be a good place to start. Looking for something very specific? Try the full-text article finder.
  • There are databases for images too! Looking for an image of a specific work? Use the ARTstor database to find high resolution, precisely catalogued images. You’ll find better (and more accurate) results than with an internet search.
  • Are you using Zotero? Zotero is a free Firefox extension that allows you to track searches and save sources from multiple databases, all in one place. When it comes time to complete your bibliography, Zotero uses your saved information to format and generate it for you. The librarians are happy to help you install and navigate this useful tool. All you need to do is ask!

Advice from the Librarians:

Research shouldn’t be a solitary process, nor should it take forever. As you begin your research, reach out to faculty, classmates, and friends to talk about what you’re interested in, and let them help you develop a better sense of where to start. Collaboration can be a very good thing! The research librarians are happy to work with you too, so feel free to contact them with any questions, concerns, or to learn more about the resources available to you at Hampshire.

Want some one-on-one time with the research librarians? Join us for the next session of Ask the Experts, a drop-in workshop on Tuesday, April 24 from 7-9PM in the Johnson Library, 1st Floor. Stop by, get your questions answered, and enjoy some free snacks. We hope to see you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at We’re happy to help!