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Introduction to Research   Tags: how-to, library, research  

This guide helps you get started with your research.
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2014 URL: http://libguides.csusb.edu/intro Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Researching

Researching, in a Nutshell

You have to be pretty flexible when doing research--sometimes you don't find what you're looking for and you have to reassess your strategy. But here's the basic cycle:

  • Read and understand your research assignment.
  • Choose a manageable, interesting research topic and decide on keywords that convey the main ideas of the topic.
  • Use your keywords to search library databases to find books and articles.
  • Skim and evaluate your results, choosing the books/articles that most closely align with your topic and your assignment.
  • Read the book chapters / articles you chose and take notes. Let your ideas percolate.
  • At this point, you may need to go back and fill in some blanks in your understanding of your topic. Do some more searches, or ask a librarian for help!
  • Write your paper according to the assignment and your professor's instructions.
  • Cite all your sources using the citation style your professor requests.

This guide will get you started!

Choosing Your Topic

Choosing Your Topic

If you're having trouble thinking up a topic that interests you, try these tools:

  • CQ Researcher
    This library database covers controversial and current topics. Click on "Browse by Topic" to find topic ideas.
  • Online Encyclopedias
    Do you already have a topic? Use these online encyclopedias to get some background on your topic before you start your research.

Identifying Keywords

Identifying Keywords

To do searches in the databases, you need to identify keywords that describe your topic.

Finding Books

Finding Books

To get in-depth and historical information about your topic, use books. The Pfau Library Catalog lists all the books this library owns.

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

Look in scholarly journals for articles written by researchers about your topic. You will find reports of original research and in-depth analyses of issues.

  • EBSCOhost Academic Search Premier
    This general database is a good starting point for finding articles on most topics. Remember to click the "Scholarly Journals" box!
  • Other Library Databases
    EBSCOhost is not your only option. The library has more than 100 different online databases. This link shows you which databases are best for your subject.

Finding Magazine Articles

Finding Magazine Articles

Look in magazines to find articles about popular topics and current events. Do not use magazine articles if your professor wants you to use scholarly sources.

Finding Newspaper Articles

Finding Newspaper Articles

Newspapers cover hard news and provide current information on local and regional events. Do not use newspaper articles if your professor wants you to use scholarly sources.

Evaluating Information

Evaluating Information

Not all information is reliable!

This tutorial explains how to evaluate information in books, articles, and websites:

Evaluating Information

Created by librarians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

      

    Citing Your Sources

    Citing Your Sources

    Do not use other people's words or ideas in your paper without giving them credit in your reference list.

    CSUSB's Policy on Plagiarism and Cheating (PDF)

    Not sure what plagiarism is? View this tutorial from the University of Texas Libraries:

    Plagiarism Tutorial

    Your professor will tell you which citation style to use for your reference list.

    Quick Start Tutorial

    Quick Start

    • Quick Start
      Quick Start is the library's online tutorial. It comprises 6 YouTube lessons that introduce the library and demonstrate how to use its basic online resources.
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