Step 1: Do you have basic research skills?
To learn the basics of library research, review the Info Lit Tutorials.
Step 2: Clarify Your Topic
Your instructor may give you topics such as:
- Top Advertising Agencies in Los Angeles
- Marketing on a Low Budget
- Trend Spotting
- Guerilla Marketing
- Targeting Your Audience
- Appealing to Emotions in Marketing and Advertising
- Media Planning
- Award Winning Advertising Campaigns
These are actually all fairly broad subjects encompassing many smaller topics. Before you can do systematic research, you must first clarify your exact topic. A good place to start is by generating synonyms for that topic.
Why is this important?
Take, for instance the term "guerilla marketing." Just because that term may be well understood within the advertising world, it is not true that it will always used every time someone writes or publishes something that could be considered guerilla marketing. Plus, it may involve many types of marketing. When you do a "keyword" search on "guerilla marketing," only those documents containing those exact terms be found. It's entirely possible that you could miss an excellent book on "product placement" such as: Product Placement in Hollywood films : A History. (See also: How to Clarify Your Topic)
Presumably you are researching topics that are not entirely familiar to you and you may not know the definitions and be able to create a list of synonyms. In this case, you may want to briefly browse some recommended websites. Keep a pencil and paper handy to jot down terms which you can use in your research process.
NOTE: Here's a good tutorial which explains about Researching Companies Online
Step 3: Find Books
Students often rely too much on Google or Yahoo and neglect better tools and sources. To be a competent researcher, figure out for yourself a systematic methodology and become proficient with a variety of tools.
Definitely try the Library Catalog (OPAC). Try a variety of keyword from your synonyms list to get an overview of what books are in the Otis Library. Through the OPAC, you may also discover alternate terms that you can use in searching other places.
Some of results you will find will be to e-books which are available to the Otis Community online. Within the OPAC, you'll see a link and all you need to do is click it to bring up the ebrary database. You may also go directly to Ebrary, to search 80,000 full-text electronic books. This database contains an enormous amount information. It is geared towards college students.
Step 4: Find Articles in Magazines and Journals
Find a journal article or two. Start with EBSCO OmniFile. It contains the full-text for 3,100 magazines and journals covering a wide variety of subject areas, including advertising. One of the magazines included in Adweek. Try a keyword search with some of your terms. If you get too many hits, limit it to a subject search.
Step 5: Look in Newspapers
Find a newspaper article or two. Try eLibrary. These databases have full text of thousands of newspapers, plus transcripts of TV news programs and congressional testimony. You'll definitely have to limit your search in some way. Think about an additional term or two to enter as a means of limiting the number of hits returned. The name of a company or a specific type of product would be a specific additional term. As a general rule, the larger the database, the more terms you can enter. (Click here to learn about Boolean Logic and how it works to refine a search.)
Step 6: Try the Web
As a last step, search for content-rich academic/educational websites. Searching the web can be overwhelming. Too much information may, in fact, be more trouble than not enough. If you want to refine your skill or you are having trouble, go to the Library and talk with Sue Maberry, the Librarian. Finding information is her expertise.
Pages ending in .org or .edu may be the best ones, but make sure the author is not a student doing a class assignment or that the page is not simply a course syllabus.