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People Smart - GEN 101 - Stewart

So, you have a research paper coming up...

We've put together some resources to help! The navigation bar is organized in the order in which you'll need the information so you can focus on researching and learning.

cat reading a book in the grass

*Getting Started has tools and tips for making your searches more effective. Your time is valuable, and we want you to know how to find the "good stuff" quickly. This is a good place to start.

*Encyclopedias has links to several encyclopedias as well as searchable reference collections. These are a good place to gather background information on your topic. 

*Books & eBooks and Journal Articles have explanations of how to use the College catalog to locate books and how to use databases to find articles.

*Plagiarism Prevention has tools to help you avoid unintentional plagiarism as well as research and study tips.

*APA Citation has several resources to help you cite sources appropriately and craft a bibliography using the American Psychological Association's style guide. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or use our chat feature by clicking "Ask A Librarian" on the right-hand side of any page of the library's website. 

Happy researching,


Once you have written your initial question, ask yourself:

  • Can the question be answered too easily?
    •  Questions that can be quickly looked up do not make good research questions.
  • Could anyone disagree with your research question?
    •  You want people to be able to disagree with your answer as this leads to discussion.
  • Is there factual evidence to support your answer?
    • Everyone has tastes and opinions; however, in academic work you need evidence to support your point. If no evidence exists, consider shifting the focus of your point - perhaps look at the opposite perspective.
  • Are there so many sources that you couldn't look at most of them?
    •   This might be an indication that your question is too broad. Consider looking at some of the sources for ways to refine and focus your question.

Turabian, K. L., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2010). Student’s guide to writing   college papers (4th ed.). Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press.

Here are a few tools you'll need to make searching effective and efficient - watch this 3-minute video before digging in to your research!

Video by Sarah Clark and licensed under a CC BY license.

  • Use more specific terms: television instead of media
  • Use phrase searching with quotation marks: "developmental delay" instead of developmental delay
  • Use field searching: try searching in the title field or the keyword field

  • Use the Boolean "AND": language AND culture
  • Use the Boolean "NOT": dialogue NOT theater for articles about dialogues but not related to theater
  • Limit by date: More recent works are more likely to be relevant and accurate
  • Limit to full-text, in our collection
  • Use broader terms: agriculture may return more results than farming does.
  • Use more accurate terms: toddler instead of child
  • Truncate terms using the asterisk (*) child* will return results that include child, children, childhood, childlike
  • Try another database
  • Use the Boolean "OR": ecology OR environment OR nature
  • Use subject headings of one good source to link to others
  • Follow-up on citations from one good source: that's one reason why scholars list their sources!