Library Research in Six Steps
Choose a TOPIC.
Find BACKGROUND INFORMATION.
Develop a SEARCH STRATEGY.
EVALUATE your sources.
CITE your sources.
- What is the purpose or goal of your research?
- Use encyclopedias, dictionaries, class notes, textbooks, etc. to get an overview of the topic. Look for keywords that you can use when you start searching.
- Use your notes and keywords from reading through the background information to help you determine the main concepts of your topic.
- Note keywords that have synonyms: death penalty, capital punishment, execution
- Link keywords and concepts to form searches:
death penalty or capital punishment and DNA
- Decide what type of resources will have the information you need.
If you are searching for information on a current event (something that has happened in the last few days or weeks), books will not be the best place to start your research as they can take years to publish. A good search strategy would be to start with articles from newspapers, news magazines, and websites.
Use your search strategy, but be ready to change it if you need to.
- Look for reliable WEB RESOURCES
- See if the library has already created a SUBJECT GUIDE on your topic. Subject Guides list all types of resources on a topic in one place in order to help you find reliable sources more quickly.
You should critically evaluate everything you use in your research paper.
- Keep track of every resource that you use in your paper so that you will have all the information you need when you create your works cited list:
title, author(s), publisher, publication date, place of publication, page #
article title, author(s), journal title, volume/issue, date, page #, name of the database
web address (URL), date accessed
- The format of your works cited list will depend on what style your instructor prefers. The library has print copies of the most common style manuals such as APA and MLA. Online resources for citing various types of sources include: