Before diving in, take a moment to think about your assignment and your topic to identify your information needs.
Check your assignment and rubric
Assess what you know about the topic
Unless you are an expert on the topic, you often need to learn more about it before you can create a research question, develop key words to use as search terms, or begin searching for sources to use in your paper/project. Start your search by looking for background information.
Identify the type of information sources you need or might want to use
There are so many different types of sources (books, scholarly articles, news articles, documentaries, primary, secondary...) available to you that it can be overwhelming. Identifying your information needs will help determine the type of sources that will provide the best type of information to help you complete your assignment, paper or project. Knowing the type of source you need will then guide you to where you want to look for that information: library databases, the Internet, an archive or special collection, et cetera.
Develop a search strategy
Take a few minutes to plan your search strategy. It may save you a lot of frustration!
Before you can start any research on your topic, you must have a background knowledge about your topic. Books, reference sources, and websites can provide you with that knowledge.
This is important because:
Remember, background information is always a starting point for research, not an ending point.
Wikipedia Yes, it is OK to use Wikipedia for background information, but never cite to it. And only use it as a starting point.
Before you can begin searching for information, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be easily be found by scanning:
If you are still struggling:
if you have a citation from your professor or from a footnote or a bibliography in another source, the citation should provide all the information you need to find it, even when it is in a citation style you don't know. A citation contains nuggets of information that usually identify:
You can use these nuggets to quickly track it down. Here are some citation examples and tips for quickly checking to see if we have it:
Article citations - Identify the title of the Journal, then use our Journal Locator Tool to see if we have it. (Using the Journal Locator Tool). Below is an APA and an MLA citation for the same article showing where you will find the journal title and other nuggets of information.
Book citations - Identify the title of the book and type it into the Library Catalog's search box or our Resource Search box on the library's home page. Below is an APA and an MLA citation for the same book showing where you will find the book title and other nuggets of information.