2 Steps to Successful Research: Introduction This lesson provides tips and information on how to conduct successful research using library resources.Sometimes it can be difficult to begin a research paper or project.You may not know where to begin or which resources would be the best.
3 Steps to Successful Research: Introduction Certain factors affect the research on a paper, including:time constraintsthe length of the paperthe paper's hypothesis or main thesis statementyour prior knowledge of the research subjectthe style of the paperthe type and number of sources that can be usedand many, many other factors
4 Steps to Successful Research: Introduction How to start?Here are some steps for successful research!
5 Step 1 to Successful Research – Review the assignment Review the specific assignment to insure that you understand the instructor's requirements.Before starting your assignment, it is important to understand the requirements for that assignment.It will not matter how wonderful or detailed a job you do on your assignment if it does not meet with the approval of your instructor.
6 Step 1 to Successful Research – Review the assignment Here are some important considerations for an assignment:TOPIC: Has the instructor assigned a topic, either general or specific?PURPOSE: Is this an informational or persuasive paper, an essay, or another type of paper?LENGTH: How many pages are required?SOURCES: Are there suggested sources, or restrictions on the number and type of sources?DEADLINE: When is the assignment due?
7 Step 2 to Successful Research – Select your topic Sometimes this can be a difficult, if not a nail-biting, decision.Your research will be easier, if you select a topic that:Interests you, or is something that you want to know more aboutMeets your instructor's requirementsHas sufficient information that is readily available
8 Step 2 to Successful Research – Select your topic You can gather topic ideas from:A list of topics assigned by your instructorTextbooks or assigned readingsPreliminary reading in general encyclopedias, newspapers, or magazinesBibliographies in the back of books on your topicsAlso, many electronic databases provide subject term or topic guide searching
9 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Refine Your Topic From Broad to Narrow ConceptsYou can narrow your topic by identifying ideas or concepts included in a broader topic.For example, you would like to write a 2-page paper on the topic of violence. But violence is such a large concept that it would be difficult to write an all-encompassing paper. It would be best to narrow this topic down.Narrower topics for the subject violence would be topics such as: violence in the media, domestic violence, or gun control.
10 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Now you try it!Below is a listing of related topics. Please choose the topic that you consider to be the broadest term.TransportationCarsVehiclesFord Explorer
11 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Transportation is the broadest term.
12 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Now, choose the topic that you consider to be the narrowest term.PlantsFlowersPetuniasAgriculture
13 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Petunias is the narrowest term.
14 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Here are some sources that can help you narrow your topic:Library catalogs, databases, encyclopedias, newspapers, or magazine articles
15 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Example: the online catalogIf you perform a library catalog search for the topic "violence" you will retrieve the following:Crimes of violence, children and violence, conjugal violence, and other terms.
16 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Example: databases, newspapers, and magazine articlesIf you perform a search for the topic "violence" using the databases Academic Search Premier®, MasterFILE Premier®, and Newspaper Source® from the EBSCOhost Web®, you will retrieve:Over 100,000 articles.
17 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Example: encyclopediaIf you search for the word "violence" in the World Book Encyclopedia®, you will be referred to the following subjects: crime, revolution, riot, and terrorism
18 Step 3 to Successful Research – Refine your topic Once you decide on your topic, the topic should be written as a thesis statement, or short sentence that:Defines the main idea of your paperStates what you will describe or prove in your paper
19 Step 4 to Successful Research: Plan Your Search Strategy It is very helpful to map out the main ideas of your topic. This can be useful in the search for information.Make a list of keywords related to your topic using:Main ideasSynonyms or words with the same or similar meaning
20 Step 4 to Successful Research: Plan Your Search Strategy Develop search terms:Start with one search term, even though your results may be too broad, thenAdd a second search term with the Boolean Operators AND or OR.AND narrows a search; results are limited to materials that include all of the specified textOR broadens a search; results are materials that include any of the search terms in the text.Even though OR broadens rather than narrows your topic, its use is important especially when attempting to include all aspects of your topic, e.g.:Physicians OR DoctorsLawyers OR AttorneysAdd additional search terms as needed
21 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Sources to use for an overview of a topic:General encyclopedias, e.g. Encyclopedia Americana®Specialized encyclopedias, e.g. Encyclopedia of Drama®Specialized dictionaries. e.g. Dictionary of Classical Mythology®General interest periodicals (magazines and newspapers)
22 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Sources to use for specialized information:Books (search the online catalog for specific titles; browse call number location for related titles)Scholarly journals (journals published for academics or professionals; the library's holdings include print journals and electronic databases with full text)Internet (use caution with this source; you must evaluate Internet sources for credibility, authority, and currency)
23 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Let's review! Which source or sources would be the best for each of the following: A report that covers current events?
24 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Magazines, journals, and newspapers would have the most current, reliable information. The Internet is current, but you would need to be careful about the reliability!
25 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Which source or sources would have an overview of a topic?
26 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources An encyclopedia or other reference book would provide a ready source of fast, reliable information.
27 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Which source or sources would provide research on current, general information?
28 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources A popular magazine or newspaper would provide research for this kind of topic.
29 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Which source would be best for in-depth, scholarly information?
30 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources A scholarly, peer-reviewed journal would provide information for this type of topic.
31 Step 5 to Successful Research: Gather Sources Keep track of sources used for citing documentation:Write down all the publication information, pages used, etc.Know what style format is required for citations (example: APA)With your research completed, you are ready to start writing your paper!!
32 For More Information About Research Basics... Here are some Web sites that provide additional information about starting a research paper.Research 101: ( This is an excellent tutorial developed by the University Libraries of the University of Washington. There are several segments. This particular segment describes how to choose and focus on a research topic.Research & Writing: Step By Step is a resource created by as part of the Teen the Internet Public Library that provides information and tips on how to write a research paper. This Web site can be found at (