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Start Here: How do I pick the right materials for my research?

Choose a Research Topic That Works

First steps

  • Think through your topic: Read any written instructions you have been given and discuss the assignment with your classroom instructor before you begin your research.
  • The more you can clarify before you come in to, phone, or chat or text with the library, the better we can help you get on with your research. Let us know if you're just starting out, or if you've tried some strategies and just aren't getting what you need.

Types of information

Star figure pointing to a pie chart What type of information do you need:
Statistics? Directory information? Pictures? History? Biographical information? Are you looking for historical or current information? Several points of view on a single topic?

The answer can help you choose the best source of information.


Collage of words including trends and forecasts, etc.What keywords or phrases best reflect your topic? Think about different ways to express your topic using:

  • synonyms (e.g. cars/automobiles)
  • alternate/related concepts (e.g. capital punishment/death penalty, trends/fashion forecasting, flats/fashion illustration/fashion drawing,  contractors/private label manufacturers)
  • broader and narrower topics (umbrellas/accessories, authors/science fiction writers)

Always Keep Track of Your Research

Even if you are just beginning your research, make sure you keep a list of all of the materials you have used, including books,magazines, newspapers, websites, databases, etc.
Having this information will allow you to refer back to the resource if you need to, and will allow to you to begin to compile citations for a bibliography or “works cited” list to include in your paper.
You can

  • take a photo of the book cover,

  • download or email an article with the option to include citation information,

  • sign in to OneSearch to manage the information you find there

  • use Zotero or other citation management tools


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