Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started with my research?


Starting your research can be challenging and exciting. Below is a general process for a course assignment. Your subject librarian can be a great resource for any step in this process or for research projects which don't follow this pattern.

General Research Process

  1. Review your assignment. Select your topic based on your interests, course readings, historical or current events or conversations with friends or classmates.

  2. Find preliminary or background research using Google, Wikipedia, course readings, encyclopedias and other sources. Use this information to focus on sub-topics which match the length and needs of your assignment. Gather keywords for future searching.

  3. Develop your thesis statement or research question. Begin an outline or concept map.

  4. Find and evaluate sources on your topic using the library catalog to find books. Use databases to find articles on your topic. The Library Course Page can be a great place to find useful databases and library tools. Tip: As you conduct research, ask yourself: What can this source do for me? How will I use this as evidence?

  5. Critically read and evaluate sources. Write and gather citation information on your sources you use through quotes, paraphrases or summarizes. If you use the words or ideas of an author or website, you need to cite it. Tip: If you are working on a big project, consider using RefWorks, Zotero or other tool to save citations and automatically create your bibliography.

  6. Edit, revise and proofread. The Center for Writing provides services and tools to help with all aspects of the writing process.

Learn more: Introduction to Library Research


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