“A research log is a record
of the process by which your research was undertaken, along with documentation
of both positive and negative results…”
Reasons for keeping a search log include:
Research is not a strictly linear process. You
may need to return to an earlier stage and redo a portion of your
search. Having a detailed record will facilitate this process.
If you feel initially that a particular source
will not be useful then change your mind, you will be able to locate
the source more easily.
When you seek assistance from reference librarians
or professors, they will be better able to help you if you have a
record of what you have already done.
Carefully recording full citations for all the
sources you use will help you avoid inadvertent plagiarism.
The log may be kept in a notebook or diary or on note
cards. It should include:
A listing of every source (book journal article,
web site, or other material) you consulted, the date consulted and
brief notes on its potential usefulness.
A record of every search of the library catalog
with all search terms used and an indication of which terms proved
most useful in locating relevant titles.
Any printouts you make of titles located through
A record of each periodical database searched including
all search terms used and which ones proved most useful.
Any printouts you make of lists of articles located
through database searches.
A record of every web search indicating which search
engine(s) and search terms you used.
The URL of every web site consulted and the date
it was accessed.
A full record of any other sources used (e.g. government
documents, archival materials, personal interviews) and the date they
A complete bibliographic citation for every source
you use whether or not you expect to actually cite it in your paper.