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Introduction to Research: Home

This guide helps you get started with your research.

Picking Your Topic

Do you need to come up with your own topic? This 3-minute video from the libraries at North Carolina State University, will help you focus.

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!

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.

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

Not all information is reliable!

This tutorial explains how to evaluate information in books, articles, and websites. Created by librarians at Penn State University.

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)

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

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

Research Tutorials