Posted in Research Skills, Uncategorized

Research Tips: Finding Resources via Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

3 Scientists, 1 microscoprIf you cannot locate a resource in the LRC, or the resource you need is checked out, we can usually get it for you from another institution via ILL. If you are having trouble locating relevant material you can contact a librarian and request assistance or use the following tips:



Search the entire CCLINC Catalog:

When you access the LRC online catalog you are by default searching only the holdings at HCC. You can expand your search to include all CCLINC community college libraries by changing the library from “Haywood” to “ALL” by opening the drop-down menu and scrolling to the top. Write down the titles and call numbers of the books you need and pass them on to a librarian.

WorldCat/FirstSearch is available through NCLive and offers access to library catalogs around the world. Locate your materials via numerous search options including title, author, subject, ISBN and keyword, among many. You will need a login and password for remote access. Please contact a librarian for current remote access information. Not sure how navigate WorldCat? Ask a librarian or check out this tutorial.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book retailers offer easy subject searches and provide valuable information (ISBNs, publication dates, reviews,  length, etc) that you can use to evaluate titles. Type in your search and scroll through the results, taking note of any relevant works. The more information you write down, the easier it will be to locate a specific resource. You may also conduct further evaluation for these titles by running a simple Google search for each.


Often a simple Google search for “[your subject] + resources” will unearth titles or links to potential research materials. Make sure to evaluate the website’s credibility before searching for or requesting any recommended resources. If you are unsure of a website’s or title’s academic credentials a librarian will be more than happy to assist you.

Institutions and Experts:

Most universities and other academic institutions will have class reading lists, recommended supplemental materials, syllabi or subject guides posted online. They may require a little effort to find but can provide a wealth of potential sources. In a similar vein, check the faculty profiles for relevant departments at leading universities. These instructors are often published authors and may have written works concerning your topic.

Posted in Research Skills

The Personal Interview, Part IV: Finishing Touches

You’ve arranged an interview, done your research, and received insightful answers to your brilliant questions. Now what?

  • It goes without saying that you will thank your source at the interview’s conclusion but don’t forget to send a thank you note.
  • If possible, before you conclude the session arrange a method (generally by email or phone) by which you may contact your source if you have any additional questions. Make sure to ask first and keep your questions brief and few in number-remember, your source has already been generous enough with their time by granting the interview.
  • Interviews provide a large amount of information but to get the most from this resource you will need to transcribe and/or organize it to allow quick and easy access to the material.-Review your notes or audio recording of the interview as soon as you can while the material is fresh in your mind.
    -As you review, begin noting the information you might use and categorizing it to allow for quick reference later.
    -Develop a clear system of organization to distinguish exact quotes from paraphrasing.
  • Don’t forget your citation! Find examples of citing interviews on our library style manuals page.
Posted in Research Skills

The Personal Interview, Part III: KISS It

Keep It Simple, Student!

Much of what makes a good interview will come naturally and involves skills you already have (whether you know it or not!) Here are a few things to keep in mind during the interview session:


How you listen during an interview directly affects the quality of the experience for both you and your source. Listening attentively and offering your undivided attention is proper etiquette and makes for a more comfortable environment. Use nonverbal (examples: nodding your head, reacting appropriately to humor, & exhibiting good posture) and verbal (short questions, small words of agreement) cues to guide the conversation and show that you are interested and are following the responses closely.


If a response inspires a new question don’t be afraid to ask it-you often find your best and most effective questions this way.


If you did not understand a response politely ask your source to repeat it or explain a particular point. Keep in mind that repeatedly asking for clarification can give the impression (rightly or wrongly)  that you are unprepared or inattentive.


As mentioned above, be prepared to let the interview take you through some unexpected territory but do not let conversation linger for too long off-topic. If necessary, use your questions to gently and politely steer the interview back to the original subject.

Record (x2)

Even if you are recording the interview take thorough notes. It will provide you with a written framework of the audio (or saved text) from the interview and serve as a backup in case of technological difficulties.

Posted in Research Skills

The Personal Interview, Part II: Preparation Matters

“You only get out of it what you put into it.”

Trite? Yes. Cliche? Most certainly. True? Absolutely, especially when it comes to the personal interview. If you want more information from a book or a journal article you can always refer to it later, but with a personal interview you generally have one chance to get everything you might need. Proper preparation will ensure that the interview is productive for the researcher and not, to put it bluntly, a waste of the source’s time.

Contact your potential source.

Make sure to contact your source well in advance of the assignment’s due date out of courtesy and to allow for maximum schedule flexibility. If you are soliciting an interview cold (you do not know the source) take time to discover the source’s preferred method of contact. This may require using an e-form on a website or contacting a departmental administrative assistant but should never, unless otherwise stated, involve calling the source at home. If the person does accept phone calls at work please be considerate of their schedules and avoid calling them at busy times. No matter what contact method you use you will need to let the source know the following:

-Who you are and why you have contacted them
-The nature of your project (includes audience and possible publication or web posting)
-How long you expect the interview to take
-A general idea of the types of questions you will ask and topics you want to cover

Schedule the interview.

Meet at a time and place of the source’s choosing. If your schedule is limited, let them decide from a range of potential meeting days and/or times. Make sure that you will be able to arrive on time and allow enough time to cover all of your questions (including follow-up questions.)

Know the material, know your source.

The key to formulating good, specific interview questions is knowing both the topic and your source’s contributions the topic’s body of knowledge. Research both before beginning your question list to ensure an intelligent and productive interview.

Develop your questions.

Good interview questions are open-ended and allow the source to give a thoughtful, informative response. Questions that require only a “yes,” “no,” or similarly short answer will provide little or no useable information and halt the flow ofconversation. Consider the following hypothetical questions one might pose to a field biologist:

Question 1: Did you see any bears during during your time the Smokies?

Question 2: How many bears did you see during your time in Smokies and what factors do you feel influenced that number?

Which question would you rather hear the answer to? Which would provide more information that you might use later in your paper? Exactly.

Maintain your balance.

For most topics there is a large body of accepted knowledge that is readily found in most available resources. It’s important to hear your source’s opinions on these matters but you also want to use your valuable interview time to record your source’s unique knowledge of the subject. Consider beginning the interview with a few general questions and use them to lead into more specific questions about your source’s particular interests.

Develop your follow-up questions.

Anticipate potential answers (which will be easy, because you know so much about the topic and your source) and make note of follow-up questions that clarify or elaborate upon the source’s responses.

Check everything. Twice.

Conducting a productive and professional interview means being as organized and efficient. Do you know how to get the interview location? Is your list of questions in an easily accessible format? Are the batteries  on your laptop or recording device charged? Do you have a backup plan if the batteries fail? Does that chat software work on your version of Windows? Is the microphone and audio functioning properly? Is your cellphone turned off?