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Start Your Research: Topic Selection

This guide will help you get started with your topic, find books and articles, evaluate sources, and use library services.

Welcome

librarian and student working together in a research consultation

This guide provides an overview of how to find articles and books and how to cite them. It will help you get started.

As you work on your projects, remember to Ask Us. We can help you dig deeper to take advantage of the library's resources and services. We're here to help you with your research!

Chat with us or stop by the research help desk in Lauinger Library.

Make an appointment for a Research Consultation for in-depth help. We'll prepare on your topic and meet with you to discuss your project and relevant resources. Consultations last 30-60 minutes. You may also contact your Subject Librarian. We have background and experience in many research areas.

From Topic to Search

Student at whiteboard1. What is your research question?

  • Phrase your topic as a question.

  • Make your question specific.

  • Example: How has the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park changed wildlife management and what changes need to be made to improve the park's ecosystem?

2. Find background information about or context for your research question.

3. Decide on a keyword strategy for searching.

  • List nouns, synonyms or related terms, and phrases that describe your topic

  • Example terms list: wolves, Canis lupus, Yellowstone National Park, wildlife management, population, ecosystem, predators, prey, moose, reintroduction, introduction, restoration

  • Example search: (wolves or canis lupus) and Yellowstone and (reintroduction or restoration)

    • More terms = more specific, fewer results

    • Fewer terms = more general, more results

4. Find books and articles.

  • Go to the next page, Books & Articles, for tips.

  • Check the bibliographies of sources you find to expand your collection of sources.

5. At any stage, Ask Us or make a Research Consultation appointment.

 

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