following steps outline a simple and effective strategy
for finding information for a research paper and documenting
the sources you find. Depending on your topic and your familiarity
with the library, you may need to rearrange or recycle these
steps. Adapt this outline to your needs.
1: Identify and Develop Your Topic
your topic as a question.
2: Find Background Information
up your keywords in the indexes to subject encyclopedias.
Read articles in these encyclopedias to set the context
for your research. Note any relevant items in the bibliographies
at the end of the encyclopedia articles. Additional background
information may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks,
and reserve readings.
3: Use Sterling (Online Catalog) to Find Books
Find Internet Sources
and subject directories to locate materials on the Web.
a good Internet tutorial, see the one created at the University
of California, Berkeley:
6: Use the Media Center to Find Audio and Viseo Resources
Evaluate What You Find
“Evaluating Web Pages” for Web sites like “How
to Critically Analyze Information Sources“ and “Distinguishing
Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of
Criteria” for suggestions on evaluating the authority
and quality of the books and articles you located.
have found too many or too few sources, you may need to
narrow or broaden your topic. Check with a reference librarian
or your instructor.
you're ready to write, see the attached annotated list of
books to help you organize, format, and write your paper.
What You Find Using a Standard Format
the citations in your bibliography using examples from the
Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological
Association (APA) standards.
an electronic or Internet resource in your bibliography?
See Online Guides to Styles of Documentation for
examples in the APA and MLA styles.
are writing an annotated bibliography, see the Web site
“How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography”:
from the general to the specific: Find background
information first, then use more specific and
what you find and where you found it: Write out
a complete citation for each source you find;
you may need it again later.
your topic into the subject language of the indexes
and catalogs you use: Check your topic words against
a thesaurus or a subject heading list.