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English Libguide

Research Process

AssignmentRead the Assignment

Before you begin research for paper, presentation, and/or project, read the assignment instructions. Yes, it sounds rudimentary, but understanding the assignment requirements is essential. 

A few important things to look for in an assignment:

  • Look for the assignment's due date and write it down in your planner/calendar
  • Understand what the topic parameters are (i.e  controversial topic, compare and contrast two short stories of your choice from selected readings, write a narrative using a few sources).
  • Know how the paper needs to be formatted (e.g. MLA, APA, etc.) and font size.
  • Know if a works cited page or annotated bibliography is required.
  • Be aware of the resource requirements (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles, books, newspapers, articles from the internet, textbook or class notes).

When you have good understanding of your assignment begin brainstorming and write your ideas for a topic quickly. Write until you have nothing more to say and don't worry if your ideas sound academic or not. At this point, it doesn't matter. Just remain open to the writing process.

Library Tip: Write about what interests you most.

Person Jumping

Embrace Your Topic

Once you decide to write about a topic that truly interests you, it's time to do some background research. Background research is a preliminary search for information to determine if there is enough information on your topic. While conducting your background research remember to take notes and write down your thoughts and ideas. Also, have your assignment on hand and use it as a guide.

Some places to find background information:

  • Textbook, class readings, class lecture with power points
  • Encyclopedias (online & print) & reference books
  • Credible websites (Google)
  • Library databases
  • Book stores (literature magazines, newspapers, etc)
  • Audio resources (podcasts)

White Sands National Monument - SleddingNarrow Your Topic to Fit the Assignment.

Reflect upon your background research and notes to create a rough outline of your paper. From this point, begin to refine and narrow your thesis.

Library Tips:

  • What is the purpose of your paper, your argument?
  • Are you following the assignment guidelines?
  • Do your resources/evidence support your topic?
  • Remember your audience
  • Continue to work on your thesis statement.

Stack of books on a library tableFinding the Right Sources and Materials

With a clear direction on your topic, it's time to locate additional sources in the library and on the Internet.

  • Library subject and course libguides
  • Periodical Databases (GALILEO)
  • Online Catalog for books, e-books and reference books
  • Google Scholar

Library Tips:

  • Remember to take accurate notes
  • Cite and document each source you use
  • When using an internet source, remember to look for the following information about the article: author, title of article, publication, date and URL.

Suggested Databases

Literary Reference Center Plus

Literary Reference Center Plus is a great database to begin your background research for a topic on an author, short story and more.

Literature Online (LION) (ProQuest Platform)

LION (Literature Online) will provide you with in depth, full text articles on authors, prose, poetry and drama.