Background Information | Current Events | Scholarly Articles | Books | Subject Guides | Evaluating Resources | Citing Resources

Researching Your Topic

After you choose a topic for a research paper or class project, you are ready to search for the best information to help you complete your assignment. This guide will help you find resources in the library and online, evaluate their quality and accuracy, and put them to use in your assignment and bibliography.

Background Information

A good first step in research is to find some background information about your topic. Look for information about people, places, events and ideas related to your topic. Use this information to search for better in-depth information from books and articles in the library and online. Useful sources of general information include:

Encyclopedias and general information websites

Use these sources to find basic information about your main topic and any related ideas.

Magazines and Blogs

Magazines and blogs have easy-to-read articles that can give you a basic understanding of your topic and related issues. Use the guides below to search for magazine articles about your topic.

To find blog articles, use a search engine (like Google) to search for blog articles on your topic, but be careful to evaluate the reliability and objectivity of the author. Most blogs have a very distinct point of view and will present information to support their own ideas.

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Current Events

Research events related to your topic that are currently happening in the world. This will make your assignment more interesting and relevant. Learn about current events related to your topic in newspapers and online news sources.

Newspapers

Online News Sources

There are many online sources for current news. These are two suggested resources, but be sure to search (usually in Google) for other sources that are relevant to your topic. Also, make sure they are objective and accurate (see the section about Evaluating Resources below).

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Scholarly Articles and Papers

Scholarly articles and research papers are the best source for current, well-researched information about a topic. Articles come from many sources: Academic journals, conference papers, dissertations, and more. The most important thing is to evaluate the information to make sure it is objective, accurate, and recent enough to still be valid for your topic (see the section about Evaluating Resources below).

Journals

Dissertations and Theses

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Books

Books on your topic can be found in many ways, from physical books in our local library collection, to ebooks in our library databases, to books freely available online.

Graham Library Collection

Requesting books from other libraries

Online books

If you need to read a book not in our collection, and you need to read it now, there is a chance you can get at least a glimpse of it online. Or, if you can't find what you need in our library catalog, try using one of the many excellent open digital libraries online.

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Subject Guides

Use these subject guides to help you find more resources on specific subjects.

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Evaluating Resources

Once you find resources on your topic, it's important to evaluate if the resource is accurate, fair and scholarly. Evaluate whether the item is:

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Citing Resources

Chicago/Turabian Citation Guide
A quick guide to formatting notes and bibliography entries in Chicago/Turabian citation style.

MLA Citation Guide
A quick guide to formatting notes and bibliography entries in MLA citation style.

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