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Answered By: Sara Stambaugh, Digital Services Librarian
Last Updated: Jul 30, 2016     Views: 1025

There are three basic steps to follow when researching a topic for a class or paper. Follow them, and remember: if you have questions do not be afraid to ask! 

Before you begin your research:

  • Make sure you understand your assignment instructions and your instructor's expectations for your work. Ask questions if something is unclear.
  • Select a topic that interests you, is unique, or current. Be original!
  • Plan out your project, break large assignments into smaller tasks, and do a little each day or week so that you aren't rushed toward the end.
  • Reach out to your instructor for help with topic selection.

During your research:

  • Use library ebooks and databases to assure high-quality, relevant resources. See our ANSWER on Ways to Research for more information.
  • Select resources that are credible and related to or that support your topic.
  • If you are having difficulty finding sources using topical keywords: search for terms that are related to, or appear frequently in relation to your topic.
  • Keep notes about each resource that you discover. Your notes should include information about the source, why it relates to your topic, and how it fits into your research plan.
  • DON'T copy notes word for word. Create your own ideas using the information you've discovered.
  • Reach out to a librarian via chat if you get stuck, need help navigating databases, or need additional resources.

 After you finish your research:

  • Write an outline that fuses your ideas with your research.
  • Utilize in-text citations to give credit to authors' ideas and words.
  • Use NoodleTools or ask for assistance if you get stuck with formatting or citations in APA.