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The Steps of Academic Research

  1. Register with the Library
  2. Figure out your keywords for searching and review searching techniques.
  3. Read Your Assignment - do you need books or articles?
  4. Do you need peer-reviewed articles or primary sources?
  5. Consider Other Sources - are newspapers, maps, or videos appropriate for your topic? (Check with your instructor if these are acceptable types of sources.)
  6. Evaluate Your Sources - your paper has your name on it, so be certain of the quality of the sources you're using.
  7. Cite Your Sources

The list on the right has more options for finding sources, locating items in the library, accessing an item not immediately available, and getting more help.

Some Things You Must Accept About Academic Research

  1. Academic research takes time and effort - much more than you think. "In the Internet world, the ease of finding something obscures the difficulty of finding the right thing."1
  2. Academic research is a trial-and-error process: you will search, see what you get, look for other keywords, subject headings, and alternative terms that you hadn't thought of... and then use those to search again.
  3. Academic research requires looking in more than one place. The really important stuff isn't available freely on the open internet and isn't collected conveniently together - you'll have to search several databases.
  4. You will read much more than you will use. You may only need 5 sources, but you will probably review 2-3 times that many to find the 5 that are best for your particular need.
  5. Ready for some good news? Most academic sources have a list of references - just like the one you need to create - so one source can lead you to others.

  1. Gustavson, A., & Nall, H. C. (2011). Freshman Overconfidence and Library Research Skills: A Troubling Relationship? College & Undergraduate Libraries, 18(4), 291-306. ↩︎