This is a guest post by Aaron Zhang, a high school student in California. You can read more about the research guide referenced here in this blog post.
Using the Library of Congress Online: A Guide for Middle and High School Students has numerous great resources, spanning a multitude of topics. I am a junior in high school, and I was given the opportunity to review the Guide in its drafting. In doing so, I discovered how it could be used for every step of the process in researching any topic. Its organization and design make it helpful in any research, and it was easily applicable to my own work.
The section entitled “Search Strategies” had a lot of great tips. Skills like using key words and better evaluating the sources you find are all integral aspects of the ability to adequately research a topic. I know that in my own research, one of the hardest parts of starting was finding the right sources that pertained to my ideas. The “Search Strategies” section also provides links to several places to find commentaries, e-books, and even biographical literature, which I can see being useful for almost any research topic.
I thought that the three sections on “Sources” were all very educational regarding the meaning of the different source types as was the “Citations” section. As students must navigate MLA, Chicago, and other styles throughout their different classes, the ability to find all the information centralized and contained in one website could make the process a lot less stressful.
I have used this research guide to conduct research on issues regarding identity, culture, history, politics, and even global issues. For example, I recently wrote a paper about artificial intelligence and was able to use the “Search Strategies” tab to find a lot of good books and articles regarding the topic. Because the guide taught me how to use specific keywords to find more relevant literature, I found quality evidence at a higher volume and a faster rate than what I would have without it.
In the future, I can see myself using this guide as an outline for almost every research project I do, whether it is a long-term, large scale project or just everyday research, to improve any research I do at all levels. Because the guide is written clearly and concisely, I believe that others can also use it to do much more credible and accurate research. It allowed me to utilize the large database that is the Library of Congress to its fullest potential, which is obviously far superior to simply looking things up on Google. By having so many different types of literature and resources in one place, research can be done at a much faster pace, and adhering to the tips in this research guide will guarantee that all of the sources and evidence found are of great quality so that they can be useful in your research.