Start Your Research

1. Decide on a topic and find background information 

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  • Find background information first, and then use more specific sources. We suggest searching sources like Points of View Reference CenterWikipedia, or Westlaw News to explore topic possibilities and choose keywords to use to search for more information.
  • Is your topic too big in scope, or is it too limited? We have some tips on how to narrow or broaden your topic.
  • Once you've chosen a topic, identify a variety of keywords you can use to locate more information on your topic.

2. Find articles in journals or magazines

3. Evaluate sources

As you search, critically evaluate the sources you find to determine if they'll contribute to your project. Consider the following when determining if a source will be useful for your research:

  • Author: Who wrote this article? Does the author have any relevant expertise or credentials? Does the author have connections to groups/interests that might indicate bias?
  • Author's point of view: What is the author's argument or perspective on this topic? Is it relevant to your topic, and does it give you new insights or information that contributes to your project?
  • Evidence: How does the author support their argument or point of view?
  • Quality of evidence: Is the author's evidence convincing? Look for evidence that is based on research, rather than emotions or anecdotes.
  • What's missing from this source? What kinds of additional information or perspectives would be helpful to have?

4. Get research support

As you research, you might want to talk to a librarian when

  • You hit a wall in your research
  • Your usual process isn't working for a particular project
  • You want to learn about new tools and strategies to aid your research

To talk with a librarian: