Research is not always a linear process. However, you can use the following steps to get your research started.
1. Identify a topic
- Pick a topic that you want to learn more about
- Scan your textbook or assigned readings for ideas
- Start to write down keywords and related concepts
- Consider creating a concept map if you learn best visually
2. Find background information
- Look for bibliographies in your textbook or use reference sources, such as Wikipedia, to find background information
- Wikipedia is a place to start--it should not be used for your deeper research
- Browse the library collection
3. Create a search strategy
- Identify synonyms, acronyms, and spelling derivations for your keywords
- Think how you can link your keywords together using AND (narrow), OR (broaden), NOT (exclude)
4. Find books
- Search for books
- Muskingum Library Catalog - books on campus
- OhioLINK Central Catalog - books at other Ohio colleges and universities
- Use the Title or Author searches for known items from a citation or bibliography
- Note location, call number, and status to find book in the library
5. Find articles
- Know the difference between Popular vs. Scholarly articles (University of Alaska Fairbanks)
- Use subject specific databases
- Read abstracts to find additional keywords to search
6. Evaluate what you find
- Evaluate the articles and web sites you find.
7. Cite Your Sources
- Make sure to cite your sources to avoid plagiarism.
- Copying and pasting text from an article, book, or web site is plagiarism.
- Put direct quotes in "quotation marks" and indicate who said it!
- Provide citation information for rephrased information