The Research Process
Choose a topic. It's OK if it's vague, or too broad; you can get more specific later.
Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including:
- Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest (countries, regions, cities, etc.)
Select the best search tools to find information on your topic. Look under the Finding Articles tab of this guide for article database suggestions, or click here to see all the article databases available for your subject. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.
Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.
Evaluate what you find. Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.
Refine your topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.
For more ideas, take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research!
Evaluate what you find
Most books and articles you find through the library website are suitable as sources for your paper - but some are not!
This 5-minute silent video will make it clear.
When you find a source, study it to see whether it's "scholarly". Scholarly publications include footnotes and bibliographies documenting their sources, list the author's credentials, and in most cases have been validated through a peer review process.
For more details, see our Critical Evaluation of Resources page.
If you're using web pages found through Google or other search engines, evaluation is especially important, since these tools have no built-in validation of the content. For help, see our guide to Evaluating Web Pages.