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RC 1000 (new): RC 1000 Research Guide

Tutorials, tips, and resources for RC 1000 assignments

You Got the Assignment, Now What?

You've Been Assigned a Research Project, What Next?

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:

  • How long it has to be (pages, number of words)
  • Citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Any additional formatting requirements
  • Due date(s)
  • Number and types of sources (websites, articles, scholarly, popular, primary, secondary...)

Choosing a Research Topic

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, Sources, Everywhere

What Do You Mean, "Sources?"

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.

Primary and Secondary Sources (1:43)

Popular and Scholarly Sources (2:55)

Accessing and Using the Best Research Tools

Accessing and Using the Best Research Tools

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).

Belk Library Logo

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.

And click here (link opens in new window) for our complete list of video tutorials.

Developing Search Terms (2:01)

APPsearch for Articles (2:51)

Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information

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.

Determining Suitability
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:

  • When the source was published or last updated - look for the most recent research on your topic but newer isn’t always better. Depending on the topic, it’s fine to use older material.
  • The degree of bias in the source - is the author making an attempt to stay objective and include various points of view or is s/he/they pushing a point of view for other reasons?
  • Whether or not the author supports what they’re saying with evidence - if the author is making lots of claims without citing them, consider looking for something else. (Source)

Evaluating Sources for Credibility Video (3:14)

Brainstorming & Background Research

Brainstorming and Background Research

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.

Belk Library Homepage

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RC 1000 Resources

RC 1000 Resources

Library Databases

Tired of APPsearch? Try these other library resources.


Try these out to supplement the other resources in this guide.

Quick Links

Library Quick Links

First Year Experience Librarian

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Mark Coltrain
Belk Library and Information Commons, 140B
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