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BioenergizeME Research Strategy Guide

 

Successful research requires thinking and planning. You can begin by selecting a bioenergy topic and prompt that you are interested in learning about. If you are not familiar with the topic, you may want to start gathering background information by exploring encyclopedias, dictionaries, or authoritative Web sites, such as those listed in the BioenergizeME Research Resource Guide.

 

To help ensure your success, the Library of Congress has prepared this research planning guide, which includes a two-step process for tackling tough research questions.

 Graphic: Architectural embellishment of an owl in the Art Deco style, done in brass and aluminum.
The owl is the symbol of wisdom. There are many owls throughout the John Adams Building at the Library of Congress.

Step 1:  Plan your Search Strategy

Begin by selecting a bioenergy topic and prompt that interests you from the BioenergizeME Website. Once you’ve selected your bioenergy topic and prompt, you will need to plan your research strategy to find information that gives you a good background and helps you identify possible focus areas you can explore.

  • Create a sentence (or two) that states your selected topic and prompt. This sentence(s) can also describe your goal (i.e. final product). For example: I want to create a graphic of various bioenergy sources.

  • Next create a short summary paragraph or outline (e.g. bullet points) that corresponds to your selected topic/prompt. This will help you pinpoint ideas and facts that might be important with your research. This will also help you to develop key (or main) concepts. For example:

Typical biomass resources include a small number of seed and grain crops, agricultural and forestry residues, municipal solid waste, industrial waste, woody and herbaceous energy crops, and algae.

  • Take a look at your key concepts and see if there are other ways to describe the main ideas. Are there synonyms or other phrases that describe your topic? There are a variety of ways to describe an idea. For example, information on bioenergy might be included in discussions about  “green technology,” “renewable energy,” or “alternative energy.” Similarly, “biofuels” encompasses a variety of transportation fuels produced from biomass resources, such as biodiesel, grain or cellulosic ethanol, ethanol blends (e.g. E10, E85), gasohol, advanced biofuels, etc.
Photo: Owl carved in stone upon a stone table.
This stone owl guards the Science and Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress.

Step 2:  Choose your Resources

Next, choose the resources you will use to learn about the topic. The BioenergizeME Research Resource Guide provides a selection of titles under each topic area. Or, use keywords you identified in your Search Strategy (Step 1) to locate information resources that can be found at a local library or on the Web. The following list of basic research resources can help guide your exploration.

  • Books, encyclopedias, and handbooks. Ask your local library for help in accessing these titles or something similar. You may also search your library’s catalog using keywords or subject headings (see Subject Headings Section below) to identify publications related to your topic.
  • Periodical (i.e. magazines/journals) and newspaper subscription databases. Your school, public, or college libraries may have periodical (i.e. magazines/journals) and newspaper subscription databases that can help you find articles on your topic.

Photo: An owl carved in stone next to a lamp in copper and class on the exterior of the Adams Building.

Here is another owl, this one helping to light the way up the steps on the Adams Building's south exterior.

Other suggestions

Try Subject Headings Searches
To focus your search to specific topics try using subject headings. Subject headings are different from keywords. They are standardized terms that are assigned to a work to describe its overall topic. Subject headings are especially useful in library catalogs. They are also useful when searching databases and the Web.

Some subject headings you might find useful:

AGRICULTURAL WASTES AS FUEL BIOMASS GASIFICATION
ALCOHOL AS FUEL BIOTECHNOLOGY
AGRICULTURAL WASTES RECYCLING CELLULOSIC ETHANOL
ALGAE--BIOTECHNOLOGY ENERGY CROPS
BIODIESEL FUELS PLANT BIOMASS
BIOGAS REFUSE AS FUEL
BIOMASS CHEMICALS RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
BIOMASS COMBUSTION SYNTHETIC FUELS
BIOMASS CONVERSION WASTE PRODUCTS AS FUEL
BIOMASS ENERGY WOOD WASTE AS FUEL

Consult with a Reference Librarian

At any point during your research, you can get expert research guidance from a reference librarian at your school, public, or college library. The Library of Congress science librarians are also here to help. Reference librarians can help with the following:

  • Locating specialized reference sources, bibliographies, or reference guides
  • Identifying good keywords and subject headings
  • Identifying other libraries, organizations, or environmental groups that might have relevant materials
  • Providing guidance on taking research notes and citing your sources.

Photo: Library of Congress, John Adams Building plaque

 

Budget your Time

Remember to balance your time between research and infographic development.


Have Fun!

It is a great time to learn about bioenergy. Researching bioenergy topics you are interested in will help make this activity fun, which will translate to your infographic and make it more engaging for your audience.

For more information about BioenergizeME, visit the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge Web page.

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   February 24, 2017
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