Picking a topic?
How do I get started?
Do some preliminary searching in library databases to help you choose a topic. Engaging with sources early in your research process will help to jumpstart your research—you'll see what issues are being discussed on your topic and start to develop a more specific topic.
- Tip: Choose a topic that you find interesting.
- As you read, ask yourself:
- What issues are scholars and researchers discussing about your topic?
- What are you curious about?
- What questions come to mind as you read?
Begin searching in the Start Your Research Here box at the top of this Guide page.
This search box will allow you to search many databases at once and to find sources on all topics. In addition, the database offers many types of sources, including books, videos, web resources and articles.
- Tip: Once you retrieve your search results, use the limiters in the Refining Your Results box on the left to get more relevant results. Publication Date, Availability and Material Type can be helpful limiters to use.
- Tip: Find other ways of saying or synonyms for your key search terms and use these in a new search.
Explore different source types as you research.
According to your assignment, you need to use a variety of source types. Source types to consider include books, scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, web resources, and newspaper articles.
- Tip: Look at the icons beside the different sources in your search results to find out the type of source. There is also a source type label above each search result.
- Under the Refining Your Results box on the left,
- Use limiters under Material Type to get specific source types.
- Use Peer Review limiter under Availability to see only Peer Review articles.
What is a credible source?
You will want to be sure that your sources are trustworthy since you are relying on your sources to support your argument. Some questions to ask:
- Who is the author? Does the author have the expertise to write on this topic?
- Who is the publisher? Is the publisher targeting a specific audience?
- What is the date of publication? Do you need a recent source?
- Is the information fact or opinion? Is it biased or persuasive?
- Check out the video Evaluating Sources for Credibility (it's also embedded below right) from NC State University Libraries.
Keep Track of the relevant sources you find.
It is easy to keep track of sources since most databases feature tools for generating a formatted citation and emailing articles.
- Tip: Save your citations in MLA 9 format.
- Tip: Create a Google or Word document, then copy and paste your saved citations into this new document; this will be a first draft of your Works Cited page.
Use MLA Style.
Check out the short video Picking Your Topic Is Research! below.