This guide will help you find information on how to start working on a research paper.
If you want to work with a librarian you can make an appointment for a research consultation, or ask research questions via email, chat, or in person. Here is our calendar for when research help is available. Librarians can help you develop your research question or research problem, and help you locate suitable scholarship, resources, statistics, and other high-quality information.
If you want a research guide for a particular discipline, look here for our list of guides.
Below is the most current Introduction to Library Research video. It provides an overview of how to navigate the library's website, and tips on doing effective academic research using the university library.
Students can use the exercises in the handout below to work through the information provided in the video. Faculty may assign the exercises in the handout (or use the exercises as a basis for their own assignments) to encourage students to engage with the steps presented in the video presentation.
Sections - click on the green segment in video to jump to a section:
0:00 - What is Scholarship?
3:35 - Library Website Overview
6:02 - Spartan Search
8:26 - Articles
10:54 - Books
12:04 - Open Internet
14:17 - Citations
Step-by-step guides to help you become a better researcher.
MISCONCEPTION: You are supposed to do your research without assistance.
REALITY: The librarians can help you locate authoritative sources to use for your research.
MISCONCEPTION: The library is only a place to get books or to study.
REALITY: The library has a substantial collection of research resources. The library also has information professionals (librarians) who can help you locate or evaluate your information sources.
MISCONCEPTION: Research is a linear, uni-directional process.
REALITY: Research involves dead ends, circling back, re-thinking your premise, and adjusting your research questions.
MISCONCEPTION: Freely available internet resources are sufficient for academic work.
REALITY: Scholarship, notable for its attempt at accuracy, reliability, and high quality, is mostly not available on the open internet.
MISCONCEPTION: Google is a sufficient search tool.
REALITY: Google is only one search tool you will use in pursuing quality research.
MISCONCEPTION: Accessibility is an indicator of quality.
REALITY: High quality research is expensive, and often difficult to access outside a university setting.
MISCONCEPTION: All library sources and discovery tools are credible.
REALITY: There are many reasons beyond credibility for a library to collect materials (either physical or digital). Just because you find it in the library doesn't necessarily mean it is credible.
MISCONCEPTION: Every question has a single answer.
REALITY: Complex, open-ended questions may have several correct answers. (For example, depending on which disciplinary lens you analyze the problem. Historians and sociologists may question the same problem and arrive at different answers.)
Hinchliffe, L. J., Rand, A., & Collier, J. (2018). Predictable Information Literacy Misconceptions of First-Year College Students. Communications in Information Literacy, 12 (1), 4-18. https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2018.12.1.2