How To Do Library Research

Web pages and other resources for research assistance.
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Welcome to the How To Do Library Research guide! Use the navigation to the left to discover links and research advice to help you navigate the Libraries' print and electronic resources.

If you are new to the Libraries, you may want to visit the Libraries' Services for Undergraduate Students page to learn about library resources and services available to undergraduate students.

Research resources typically consist of books from academic publishers and articles from scholarly journals. Depending on your topic, you may need additional types of sources such as data and statistics, primary sources, articles from trade journals, images, music, and videos. All of these types of sources can be found in the Libraries and on the Libraries' website.

If at any point you need help, you can Ask a Librarian or consult the Libraries' tutorials.

Getting Started

You need to start with a topic that interests you. You will be researching this topic for weeks and will want to revisit it multiple times. If you need help selecting a topic the Libraries have a couple of web pages that may be helpful:

  • Selecting a Topic web page contains tips on how to focus on a topic, and narrow your search results, for your project.
  • Hot Research Topics & Controversial Issues web page contains sources on current events and controversies, providing timelines, overviews and background information on topics.

Next, you will want to plan your time management on completing the research project. The Libraries' Research Project Calculator can be used to plan your research and writing with an eight-step process.

When you are starting your research and you know absolutely nothing about your topic, there are a couple of places where you can get quick information:

  • Encyclopedias allow you to quickly gather background information for your research project, and provide a good place for you to discover alternate search terms, a timeline, and current research on yor topic.
  • Using Wikipedia (Cornell University) explains how Wikipedia can be used effectively and why it should not be used as a source for academic research.

Once you have enough background information on your topic, you will want to start searching for research sources.  The Libraries' Subject Guides are designed by Subject Librarians and contain extensive links to specialized encyclopedias and handbooks, databases to find articles and data, and more.  On the right side of the guide you can find contact information of the Subject Librarian to assist you further.  There is a Subject Guide for every discipline and school on campus.

Why Use Library Resources?