Once you have chosen a topic for your research paper, your next step will be to begin to compile a bibliography of prospective books and articles.
Entries for your bibliography should be collected on 3x5 index cards. You should have a good supply of these on hand, perhaps a pack of 100 to start. Notes should be taken in pencil so that you can erase neatly and maintain a legible record.
Using LUCI and other search engines
Luciweb will be your major search engine for books. Search keywords for your subject. Be imaginative! After you've searched LUCI, search Tulanet and LOUIS as well for books and articles at Tulane and UNO. When the search engines turn up promising titles, copy the relevant information (author, title, date and place of publication, etc.) onto a notecard. Use only one title per card.
Once you've compiled a list of all the relevant book titles on your subject, you should begin searching for articles related to your topic. Two search engines will help you in this task: American History and Life and JSTOR. American History and Life is a database that searches articles published on American history in academic journals. Follow the link on the webpage to American History and Life and conduct a basic Keyword search like the one you used on LUCI. In addition to keywords, you might want to search under the names of individual authors that surfaced in your search on LUCI. Back issues of some of the titles may be available on JSTOR. When they are, American History and Life will display a link to the full-text copy of the article. Other journal articles that are not collected on JSTOR may be available at one of the three university libraries in the area. The Loyola library also provides a document delivery service for articles in journals that are not in our library. These articles can be faxed to our library. Therefore, any article you find ought to be available to you within 72 hours. As in the case with the books, titles of promising articles should be entered on to your notecards.
Expanding and building on your initial searches
The search for sources never really ends in a research project. Every book and article that you consult has the potential to guide you to additional resources that your first search failed to reveal. It is especially useful to mine the footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies of the books and articles that you consult for additional titles. When these titles present themselves, they should be added to your bibliography file.