Research on any topic is an iterative process. This guide is intended to give you an overview of the different parts of the research process, as well as a more in depth look at how to evaluate sources.
This guide is not exhaustive, however, and if you are looking for specific information on how to locate particular sources (such as newspaper articles) please consult the following Learning Guides:
The hardest part of starting research can be choosing and developing a research question or topic. Here's a few things to keep in mind:
Adapted with permission from the UW Libraries LibGuide, "National History Day Research @ UW Libraries: Topic Ideas."
Once you have an idea, you will need to find words to describe your topic. These will become your search terms.
1. Write out your thesis sentence.
2. Select the important or essential words.
3. Find alternative ways of saying things. Databases do not always understand natural language. For example, instead of the word "kids," you may want to use "children."
4.Take advantage of online catalogs and databases to find related subject or thesaurus terms.
5. Scan the "see also" or "suggested" subjects for related topics and words.
"How have cell phones impacted our lives?"
Google is what most people use to search the web. A random search on your topic can yield a million random web sites. If you think carefully about who the stakeholders are in your topic, you can use Google to find the web presence of organizations such as companies, government agencies, think tanks, consumer groups--in short, people who have a reason to convince you of their point of view.
Still have questions about when to use Google? The video created by Northeastern Illinois University's Ronald Williams Library may help answer your questions.