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Starting Research

Research can be time consuming and is often a bit daunting at the beginning of an assignment.  Research is often a winding path that doubles back, again and again.  It can be hard to determine what your topic will be, and finding materials that cover your topic can seem nearly impossible.  But research is a fundamental building block in your college career, and helps develop your knowledge of concepts and topics.  The good news is, with practice, the research process can become manageable and even fun.

This guide is designed to help with the research process.  Tools along with tips, tricks, and practice activities will help guide you through your research, breaking the steps of the process down into manageable chunks.

If, at any time, you need help or have questions, contact your professor and/or a librarian.  And remember, the earlier you reach out, the more time we can help you.   

Using this Guide

This guide was created to help you conduct research by providing tools and information to better help you through the research process. 

You do not need to read every section in-depth or at length.  This guide, and the information within it, was designed to jump around in, and gather the information that you need when you need it. 

Major topics discussed in this guide are the following:

The Research Process
The Research Process can be broken down into 8 manageable steps.  This page walks you through the process from start to finish, letting you know what to expect at each step, proving tips to help you organize yourself before and during the research process.  If you are unsure where to begin your research, this is a great place to start. 

Topic Development & Keywords
Focusing your topic and compiling a list of strong keywords is an important step to ensure the research process goes smoothly and produces quality results.  The Topic Development and Keywords page walks you through how to develop a strong topic that can be turned into a research question or thesis statement, and then guides you through the process of compiling strong keywords to use when searching within a library database. 

Conducting Research
Explore the different ways to locate materials needed for your research.  The Conducting Research page provides step by step instruction on searching the library's catalog and locating and searching the best library database for your research needs.  

Evaluating Resources
Once you have located materials to use for your research, it is essential to evaluate the resource to ensure it is the best information and material for your research.  The Evaluating Resources page explains the types of resources, walks through popular versus scholarly publications, and provides a checklist to determine if a source should be used in your research.

Creating Citations 
Citations give credibility to a research project and give credit to the researchers whose work you referenced.  This page provides an introduction to citations and why citing your sources is important.  The main citation styles are expanded and explained, with examples given about how to format your citations.

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