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Do background research on the different parts of your research question
Useful sources for finding background information
BOOKS—look at table of contents and index
Know what you are looking for first!
Going to a search engine, library catalog, or database and simply typing in words for inspiration will lead quickly to frustration
Typing in your entire question almost never works.
Using Search Terms in a database
Most databases have Boolean searching built into searching, as is shown in this EBSCO database above.
Step 3: Locate Materials
Books: Use mainly for background information, history, overviews of a topic
What to Search: Use your broader search terms (topic keywords) to search catalogs for books
Where to Search: Library Catalog, (select Search Books and Media tab over the search box on the library main page). Also search Worldcat (to find other books that the West Library doesn't have)
Journal Article:Use for in-depth topic research, and experimental results
What to Search: Use the keywords you selected from your research question or other terms that you identified from steps 1 and 2
Where to Search: EBSCO Discovery Service, individual Journal databases
Web Pages: Varied--Everything from scholarly level research to pop-culture pages
What to search: Use the keywords that you developed in steps 1 and 2
Where to search: Google, USA.gov, other search engines
Step 4: Frustration
Are you getting way too many results, none of which look like they could answer your question? Your search is too BROAD. Try to pick more specific or clearer terms.
Are you not getting any results? Your search is too narrow. Try using a broader term, or try to research each aspect of your research question separately. You may need to discuss the research question with your professor to decide ways to make it a broader search.
Are you only finding materials that the library doesn't have? Then request an interlibrary loan of ask a librarian for help with your search.
Try to look through the Works Cited pages in your textbook to get ideas of where the authors did their research, the terms they used, and topics/research questions that are common in your field.
Step 5: Re-search
Evaluate what you already have and what you still need (evaluate for completeness)
Fill in gaps in your research
This is mostly a step to lookup little facts, statistics, or definitions to properly answer your research question
Step 6: Synthesize
Extract the useful information from your sources that you have gathered, and determine how it will be used in your paper, evaluate for content
This is the step in which you write your paper
You get help with the writing process from your professor or from the Academic Success Center, located on the first floor of the library
Step 7: Cite your work
Keep citation notes throughout your research to make this step easier
For every source that you find, get as much of the following information that you can:
Publication date or last updated date
Title of article, Title of Journal, title of magazine, web page or book
Volume and issue (for periodicals)
Publication information: publisher name and city, for books; database name for periodicals
URL (For web pages); DOI (for periodicals) and Date accessed (for anything online)
Include only information you cite in your paper in your Works Cited page
Indicate in the text of your paper when you are citing another author, even if it is not a direct quote. Cite quotes, ideas, statistics, summaries, paraphrasing, and facts that are not commonly known
Use the citation style required by your professor. Style manuals are available in the Reference Collection of the library and on the library's web page.