"A term paper will be due the last week of the course." If you are like most students who hear these words on the first day of class, you wish you had known enough to have chosen another course. It is not that you are a loafer. You just know from previous experience that, to get a decent grade on a term paper, you will have to cope once again with that monument to frustration, your college or university library. Never yet have you managed to find those two essentials: a topic that really captures your interest and the right books and articles to stimulate and satisfy your curiosity about the topic. Sometimes you have come close, but not without spending tedious hours thumbing through the card catalog and browsing in the stacks.
Writing a term paper may never be easy, but it can be made much easier if you learn to use an effective search strategy and the appropriate reference sources. That is what this book is all about.
A search strategy is simply an organized way of finding an appropriate term paper topic and then finding enough important library materials on that topic. As this book will show, search strategy involves much, much more than just looking up a few titles in the card catalog.
This book is designed to teach basic search strategy and reference sources by leading you through a search, using a typical psychology term paper topic as an example. Excerpts from the most useful reference sources relate to the sample topic and demonstrate both search strategy and the use of these sources. This teaching method gives you a model which you can readily adapt to your own topic.
Students are usually short of time when term papers are due, and you should be aware that using this book to learn search strategy and reference sources will take time for the first paper or two. However, once you have written two papers under the close guidance of this book, you will probably know what to do well enough to put the book aside, except for Appendix iv. More efficient use of the library will start to save you some time, and you can expect to see many of your former frustrations disappear. You will begin to look on future term paper assignments as a welcome chance to pursue your own interests and perhaps be truly creative. Using this book can be the difference between term papers that are a labor of love and papers that are just plain labor. It can also help your grades.