Here are some basic steps for doing library research. For more assistance, please see the Library's guide to Research Strategies or contact your librarian.
- Identify your topic. Search for information on what is currently known about your topic. Popular articles and websites are fine for this part of the process. Graduate students often look at the research being done by specific researchers or labs.
- Develop search terms or "keywords." These terms are important for searching in library databases. You will want to include synonyms and alternate terms. Always look for more search terms in articles you find on your topic
- Select a database to search. Some databases are for general (such as Academic Search Premier) and others are more specific to a subject area. If you go to the library's research guides, you can see a list of the best databases to search for different subject areas.
Tips for using databases:
- Use search terms (keywords) to search for articles on a given topic. Except in Google Scholar, natural language (sentences) will not work.
- Use separate rows (search boxes) for your different terms when possible. If this is not possible, put AND between terms.
- If you are not getting the results you want, try putting quotation marks around terms you want to keep together in a specific order.
- Example: "social media" AND "mental health"
- Use the filters, usually located on the left side or top of the page, to limit results (date, etc.)
- Practice: finding scholarly literature is a skill that takes time to develop.