Sometimes the most difficult part of a research project is just getting started. And one of the biggest problems students face is just understanding the assignment instructions. Make sure you know:
For some, this might be the hardest part of the process. You'll want to choose a topic that you're interested in or curious about. However, if the topic is something that you're passionate about and/or is something that is political, be sure to acknowledge your own biases and keep an open mind to other perspectives. This video puts some of that into perspective.
Picking Your Topic IS Research (3:10)
Sources are artifacts of information you'll use as evidence to support whatever you're writing about. Good researchers will consult and use a variety of sources - primary, secondary, popular, and scholarly sources. The following videos explain more about the most common types.
Once you've done some background research, using the Internet and the Library to do research will be easier.
Whether searching for product reviews or recipes, you've likely used Google at some point. Many students also use it as a starting point for research. Here are several articles and videos that offer tips and strategies on how to get the most out of Google (and sites like Wikipedia).
APPsearch is a great place to start with RC 1000 research. It's located on our homepage and searches books, ebooks, streaming films, and all types of articles (scholarly, popular, etc.). If you're used to using Google, it might be a little daunting at first but the more you use it, the easier it gets. You’ll also need a strong list of search terms or keywords, which you’ll generate if you spend enough time doing background research. Scroll down for short video tutorials on search terms and APPsearch.
Now that you’ve started finding sources, you’ll need to evaluate them before committing to them, but this doesn’t have to be time consuming. Just ask yourself two questions: Is this source trustworthy? And is this source suitable? Not every suitable source is trustworthy, and not every trustworthy source is suitable.
Consider the following: will this source help me answer the research questions that I am posing in my project? Will it help me learn as much as I can about my topic? Will it help me write an interesting, convincing essay for my readers?
Determining Trustworthiness (or Credibility)
Trustworthiness of sources may not be as easy to determine, especially if you’re in a hurry, aren’t paying attention, or haven’t checked your own biases at the door. Pay attention to things like:
The best way to ensure success when doing research is to have a clear idea of where you’re going (a research question and/or thesis statement) and what you’re trying to find (specific evidence and examples). Here are some tips:
Brainstorm by freewriting on your topic: what do you already know? what do you want to find out? Use the freewriting to create a concept map (link opens in new window)
Do background research to get context on the topic
Read and take copious notes - highlight ideas to research further or things you don't understand, jot down questions, etc.
Tired of APPsearch? Try these other library resources.
Try these out to supplement the other resources in this guide.