The Steps of Academic Research
- Register with the Library.
- Make sure to select the link(s) for your campus - Mookini Library serves both UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College.
- Find a topic, figure out keywords for searching, and review searching techniques.
- Read your assignment - do you need books or articles?
- Do you need peer-reviewed articles or primary sources?
- Consider other sources - are newspapers, maps, or videos appropriate for your topic? (Check with your instructor if these are acceptable types of sources.)
- Evaluate Your Sources - your academic work has your name on it, so be certain of the quality of the sources you're using.
- Cite Your Sources - your instructor will usually tell you which citation style to use - if not, you should ask!
Other general-research information available in the menu to the right (or at the bottom) of this page.
Some Things You Must Accept About Academic Research
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ready for some good news? Most academic sources have a list of references - just like the one you need to create for your paper - so one source can lead you to others.
Gustavson, A., & Nall, H. C. (2011). Freshman Overconfidence and Library Research Skills: A Troubling Relationship? College & Undergraduate Libraries, 18(4), 291-306. https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2011.624953 ↩︎