Before you get started:
- Choose a topic that is interesting to you and relevant to your coursework.
- Give yourself as much time as possible to get the work done.
- This research calculator can help you plan your time.
- Save your work often so you don’t lose anything.
- Use organization tools (research logs or graphic organizers) to keep track of your work.
- Many of our databases also have the option of creating an account to save articles and searches.
Step 1 – Formulate Your Question
- Your research may start as a general idea or a specific question, statement or thesis.
- Know what you want to focus on before you begin.
Step 2 – Get Background Information
- Read about your topic using websites or encyclopedias.
- It introduces you to the topic, helps you to focus on its key elements and can help you decide to broaden or narrow your focus.
- These sources often include bibliographies that you can “piggyback” to find more sources on your topic.
Step 3 – Focus and Refine Your Topic
- Think about how you want to explore the topic.
- Ask yourself:
- Is my research intended for a general group or class or is it more specialized?
- Can or should I limit my topic by time period or place?
Step 4 – Research Tools
- You need the right tool for the job. Using our research guides can help you find these answers.
- Ask yourself:
- What types of materials do I need?
- How recent should my materials be?
- How long do I have to do my research?
- What subjects are covered by my topic?
Step 5 – Select Your Tool and Begin
- Use the library’s resources to find journal articles, eBooks and videos.
- Use our library catalog to find books or DVDs.
- If you are using websites, make sure they are quality resources – not just the first result!
Step 6 – Get Stuck, Get Help!
- Never fear, we are here to help you with your research questions!
- Stop by, call: 827-2434 or email: [email protected].
Step 7 – Gather Your Materials
- Are your best resources books, journals or websites?
- Does the Library have the book or article or will you have to borrow it from ILL or AcademicSHARE?
- Remember that you have a deadline and that getting all of your materials may take some time.
Step 8 – Evaluate Your Resources
- You may be overwhelmed by the amount of information you find.
- To find “good” resources for your paper, you must analyze and carefully select them.
- Journal articles have gone through peer-review before being published.
- Books are also edited before publication.
- Use the CRAAP test for website evaluation.
Step 9 – Stay organized
- Give yourself enough time to conduct your research, so you can understand your topic enough to write effectively on it.
- Keep track of your research so you don’t have to scramble to find it later.
- Use our research log or graphic organizer to help you stay on track.
Step 10 – Write and Review Your Paper
- Make sure your paper is formatted correctly – APA, MLA or another style an instructor requires.
- Check to make sure all of your sources have been cited and your research is properly listed at the end of your paper.