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ENGL 114/ENGL 115 A Research Guide: Research a Topic

Getting Started

Your best bet when beginning a new research paper is to start general and then get more specific as you have more background information on your topic.

For a 5-10 page paper your topic and research question will need to be more specific than you might think! A good rule is that if a whole book has been written on your topic, then you should get more specific.

If you would like help on finding resources within a specific discipline, go to:

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Step 1: Gather Background Information

Reference works (encyclopedias, bibliographies, dictionaries) can help you get background information on your topic. Try these reference databases:

As you find material on your topic, keep a list of terms and keywords. These keywords will be helpful to use when you need to find scholarly resources. You may also need to consider alternate terms or synonyms.

Try using a worksheet to keep track of terms, like this one:

Step 2: Find Books

Start your research by searching for books in the library catalog. Use your terms and keywords found in reference sources to search for books.

Pro-tip: Once you have found at least ONE relevant book in the library catalog, look at the linked subjects in the catalog record. When you click a linked subject, the library catalog will retrieve all the other books on that same topic.

Go to the next page (Find Books) to get specific advice on using the library catalog to find books.

Image Citations

From the Noun Project: "Article" icon by Setyo Ari Wibowo, "Evidence" icon by Alina Oleynik.