I fell into a rabbit divot

I’m going to make a pretty obvious statement right here and now: the Internet is a magical thing. Good, now that that’s out of the way, I can confess that my searching habits resemble those that someone who never grew up with a computer may possess.

What I’m saying is that I don’t find myself clicking on link after link and “falling into a rabbit hole” on a usual basis. I think a big part of it is that I don’t like not knowing how much time I will spend looking up factoids that I will literally never need again. But also, maybe I am just not extremely inquisitive.

Sticking to what you know isn’t completely a terrible way to live life; I just like to think that I’m a pretty direct thinker who searches for something with a purpose. For example, on an almost daily basis, I will read or watch something entertaining, and I play the “What else has that actor been in?” game (big shout-out to IMDb).

So with this massive preface out of the way, my “rabbit hole” was more like a “rabbit divot” when using the library research guides. Because I have a pretty good idea of where I want to take my project this semester, I didn’t allow myself to just wander; instead I looked at categories that I thought were going to be beneficial for me (selfish, I know).

About my search: what I’m looking into is really gender and entertainment of the superhero variety, so I first clicked on Arts and that led me to Comic Books and Graphic Novels. There was not only an archive of comic books, but also essays about the superhero, which is pretty neat. I even found an archive about women in comic books (score) and how to cite a comic book properly.

From there, I tried to find something under the women’s studies category, but came up empty handed. However, I did stumble upon a pretty nice archive about how to obtain copyright to use images and things, which I think a lot of people in class might want if they are using pictures that aren’t theirs (you’re welcome).

Although I didn’t just free-fall through links and tabs, I now feel more assured that there is material on my potential project. So I encourage a more direct route even if you have various ideas just to see what kind of potential your project has!

Down the Rabbit Hole I Go…

down_the_rabbit_hole_by_fit51391-d5m5uk0When I made it to the Research Guide page, I immediately clicked on the Humanities category. Some of the other sections interested me, but most of the courses I’ve taken in college are humanities-based and it’s become the field in which I feel most comfortable.

The Humanities category has a wide range of topics in it. I was turned off by the Communications and media links because I want to branch out and do something different in my project. I first looked at the Children’s Literature link. I think it would be fun to write a children’s book; it would be a new challenge for me, and compel me to approach writing in a way that I have not before. I’m not sure what I would write about that is applicable to my life or education and is accessible to children. Another hurdle is animation or art, which is almost always necessary to children’s books. My artistic talents do not go beyond the ability to draw a stick figure, so drawing pictures for an entire (albeit) short book would be very difficult.

As I was perusing the Humanities page, I found myself looking for a journalism link. I didn’t find one, but I think the fact that I wanted to says something about what I am interested in. On the first day of class, while speaking with my partner about potential project topics, I came up with the idea of a newspaper column. I –without any shame –am a big fan of Sex and the City, and was inspired by the protagonist’s fictional weekly column. The columns wouldn’t be quite as scandalous as those of Carrie Bradshaw, but I do think this project would allow me to incorporate humor into my project. As with the children’s book idea, I’m not sure what my topic or angle would be with the column, but the flexibility of such a project would enable me to come at it in different ways.

Overall, the rabbit hole activity was very helpful. The Research Guide didn’t necessarily point me to one specific topic, but helped me think about what I am interested, which is one of, if not the most important steps in choosing a project.

Best Kept Secrets Found Down the Rabbit Hole

Being a (mostly) science writer in my studies, I had heard of a good portion of the links that came up in my click through Health Sciences > Hematology/Oncology. For example, the journal names were all familiar, PubMed is my go-to database, and I even knew some of the jargon being tossed around. But, it really is true that you learn something knew every day.

Through my search I found a magical database that I only ever dreamed about before. It’s called Web of Science. (Cue glorious music sound) It’s the simplest and most needed database I’ve ever come across. You use it to search for published papers by topic, title, authors, author indicators, year, and the list goes on. Then, you can refine your search based on how far back in time you want to search. Click go and the magic flowing out of your computer is comparable to that at Hogwarts. This database tells you how many times each article has been cited by another source and, wait for it, will produce for you a citation map. That’s right folks, the Rabbit Hole problem has been solved. This map will show you who cited who and when. If any of you are science majors or have worked in a research lab, you’re probably as excited as me about this.

Web of Science Screenshot
The easy-to-use Web of Science Database.

Of course, there are other great features to Web of Science like MGetIt so you can see the full articles. The point I’m trying to make, besides a defending trial for Web of Science, is that I really didn’t know there was more we were being offered. I usually just go to PubMed or even just search the library search bar at the top of their website when I’m looking for papers or references. After 7 full semesters here, you’d think I would have gotten the University’s die hard message about all the resources, but I haven’t. My advice to any underclassman is to search around. I know you feel like you don’t have time and you just want what’s right in front of you, but there’s so much more and you’ll really save time in the end when you find a more specific and helpful resource.