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Videos and Tips: Research Tips

This guide contains helpful information for searching, library, and internet resources

Beginning your research

Your preliminary research should include broad and general reading about your topic, e.g., articles from journals, newspapers, magazines, and book browsing (you may end up using only some of these resources in your actual project) 

There must be a clear focal point to your research project—state what it is you want to investigate, discover, question, compare, argue, etc. You must present a well-defined idea or assertion capable of being supported by your research: this is your thesis statement. Examples of thesis statements:

OWL at Purdue University's Creating a Thesis Statement

LEO at St. Cloud State's Thesis Statement

Finding Search Terms

Identify the key concepts in your thesis statement, as these will become your search terms.

  • think up a few synonyms for your search terms; they may yield more results than your original search terms. All databases use "controlled vocabulary" which dictates what results will be retrieved—if the database does not recognize the search term you use, it may offer few results, even though there may be a lot of information on your topic. Use "See also," "Refine your Search," and "Find More Like This" links to further target your search
  • when searching for scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, make sure you check that box on database search screens

Time Concerns

Give yourself sufficient time to do a thorough job. Do not wait two days before your paper is due to start doing your research.

  • you may need to revise your original search strategy
  • you may need a resource that is not available in the library and an interlibrary loan may take two weeks to arrive
  • you will need plenty of time to write, edit and polish your paper, and cite your sources, after you have finished your research

Visit this site for more information on Boolean search terms(AND, OR, NOT), parenthesis, searchable fields, and other helpful searching information.