Starting Your Research
Think of research as an investigation. Begin by casting your net wide. Validate your sources and do not take any one source as the final authority. Analyze the information. Here are some information resources to consider:
- Because anyone can publish on the web, internet sites found during the course of a search need close review for accuracy, legitimacy, and authorship.
- Search mechanisms are unsophisticated; results can be unpredictable.
- Many resources are NOT found on the open internet.
- Learn to analyze information on the web:
- Commercial products compiled by subject matter experts and professional indexers.
- Complex search functions provide focused results.
- “Pay-for-play”-- Access them through your local library, university, or community college.
- The most current information can be found in journals. Note: Some law enforcement titles are not indexed in commercial databases.
- Journals can be divided into three categories: popular, scholarly, and trade journals. All are useful in research.
- Access our current POST Library journals list.
Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources
A good researcher stays aware of the type of information he/she is accessing. Primary sources tell the story, while secondary sources put facts and figures into context.
- Unedited eyewitness accounts
- Transcripts of interviews, speeches, TV shows, etc
- Financial figures
- First-hand description of event
- Creative works: literature, plays, etc
- Analysis and discussion of transcripts or speeches
- Financial analysis
- Summaries of events by individuals not directly involved
- Criticisms or reviews
Books, Government Publications, White Papers
- Look here for overview, history, and background information.
- Good way to locate experts, reports and studies.
- Government agencies and law enforcement associations produce a wealth of information.
To consult on research strategies or request an online search, contact Laurel Espell at (916) 227-3204 or call the Library at (916) 227-3765.