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Start Your Research

Just starting your research? Review the basics here.

Define your Project, Topic, and Questions


  1. ​Read the assignment thoroughly and ask questions if you need clarification. 
     
  2. Watch this 3-minute video: "Beginning the Research Process" from NCSU Libraries. 
     
  3. Brainstorm a list of questions using this method from the UCLA Library. Which question(s) do you find most interesting? Run it by your instructor to see if it would be an appropriate research question to start exploring. 
     
  4. Turn your research question into keywords before you start searching for articles and books. 

Investigate Diverse Sources and Perspectives


Try to find a variety of sources (scholarly articles, newspapers, government publications, personal narratives) that represent multiple perspectives. Be open and curious. At this point, you're looking for information that will help you answer your question, not support a pre-determined thesis. 

  1. Do background reading in subject encyclopedias, textbooks, or Wikipedia to get an overview of a topic. Jot down terminology that can be added to your list of keywords. 
     
  2. Using your keywords, search in Quick Search, Google Scholar, and multi-subject databases to find articles and books. As you read and investigate, you'll want to tweak your research question and revise your searches based on what you're learning. 
     
  3. After you become more familiar with your topic, find a subject research guide. This guide will point you to specialized databases within a discipline. Some databases can be difficult to use, so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help. 

Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically


Choosing credible sources is more complicated than simply finding a peer-reviewed article. What is considered a "credible source" depends on the context of the situation, the audience, the academic discipline, and the subject and purpose of the work. 

These videos from NCSU Libraries will help you evaluate information and sources critically. 

Make an appointment with an MSMU Librarian for help finding credible sources for your assignment! 

Incorporate Sources into Your Work


How you do this will depend on the type of assignment you have, however, this page provides useful examples of how to integrate sources into your work. 

If you need guidance in this area, make an appointment with a librarian or an MSMU writing tutor

Looking for Writing Tips?


Try this guide for a few writing tips and resources:

Looking for Writing Help?


You can find help writing and revising essays in the following locations:

  • Student Resource Center (SRC) (Doheny Campus) - for traditional Undergraduate Students - schedule a Writing Consultation in myMSMU
  • Chalon Academic Support Center (ASC) - (Chalon Campus) for traditional Undergraduate Students - request an appointment with a Writing and Critical Thinking Consultant
  • Professional & Academic Resource Center (PARC) (Doheny Campus) - for Graduate Students and Weekend/Evening College (WEC) Students - schedule an appointment for Writing - assistance with brainstorming, grammar, punctuation, citation, coherent argument, and revisions is available. Schedule an appointment in myMSMU.