Research Guide

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
    1. Muskingum Library Catalog - books on campus
    2. OhioLINK Central Catalog - books at other Ohio colleges and universities

    Search Tips:

  • 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
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