A research consultation is a meeting with a librarian, scheduled in advance at your convenience, to get help with your research.
Why should I consider one? It’s one of the perks of being a Cornell undergrad, graduate student, or faculty. It’s free, and fun, but it’s also incredibly efficient. The librarian will help you search for, find, and obtain better and more sources for your project than you might have found on your own, and it’ll take less time and effort.
Here’s the research consultation request form. When you make the request, describe your project pretty fully—
- the topic/project (and maybe the course)–But if you don’t have a topic for your paper yet, that’s okay too. Librarians often help people think through possibilities and help decide whether there’s enough material for a project.
- the parameters or length—There are no requirements. It could be a small five pager, an honors or master’s’ thesis, a Ph.D. dissertation, or your next article or book.
- the deadline—We’re usually very flexible, but don’t wait to the last minute. You may need a few days or even weeks to obtain the materials through Borrow Direct, Library-to-Library Delivery, and/or Interlibrary Loan.
- any particular problems or challenges—For instance, you’ve searched a lot but you haven’t been able to locate any good sources on your own, or you’re doing a paper on Russian elections, but you can’t read Russian.
Once you’ve pressed submit on your request, it goes to our Research Consultation Scheduler who uses the information you provided to match you with an available librarian with the pertinent subject background. That librarian then emails you to schedule a time and provide directions to a library office.
Once the meeting is set up, if you get sick or something comes up, it’s not a problem. Just let us know and we’ll reschedule.
The meeting takes place in a relatively quiet private space, generally in a library office with a computer. (Bring your own laptop if you’re the type that likes to follow along.)
Every research consultation is a bit different because it’s tailored to your needs.
Generally the meeting lasts for about an hour, occasionally even two, but it depends on your topic and your needs. Some people have a series of research consultations. For which they receive frequent flyer miles. (Just kidding! There are no frequent flyer miles for research consultations. Yet.)
Typically, during the consultation, you and the librarian search the classic catalog, relevant discipline-specific databases, and other specialized print and online resources depending on your particular needs which might include digital collections, image repositories, other library catalogs, statistical resources, etc.
While you search, you and the librarian will talk and evaluate the results of the searches and design new strategies and approaches together. It’s not unknown for laughing to occur.
By the end of the consultation, you will have:
- Discovered lots of material and made requests for material that was checked out, not at Cornell, at another campus library, etc.
- Learned more about how to effectively navigate the library
- Learned a whole lot more about effective searching
- Secretly congratulated yourself for taking advantage of this service!
Are research consultations only for research projects? Good question. Actually, no. They could be for help with RefWorks or other citation managers, or formatting the citations themselves, or using other research software, copyright issues.