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Library Guide for General Studies Courses: Starting Your Research

Initial Considerations

Before conducting any research first think about the assignment. Carefully read your assignment until you fully understand it and know the necessary points that your professor is looking for.

Choose something that interests you or is related to your major. Be creative and try to match the assignment to something that you want to know more about.


Keep track of keywords and terminology that occur regularly and add these to your keywords list.

Here's a list of keywords that could be used for a paper on robotics:

robotics machines
technology  automation
computers interactive computer systems
computer networks       computer science
Internet Searching

Your first instinct might be to search the internet using Google or another search engine. You can certainly find useful resources on the Internet, but it is important to understand how to use it in research and why it should not be your only research stop. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Good Information is Usually Not Available for Free – Most intellectual content in journal articles, conference proceedings and books is protected by copyright law and is therefore typically not available for free. Publishers and information creators often require that users pay a fee for individual articles or purchase subscriptions or memberships in order to access content.

Not everything is on the Internet! – If you rely on the Web for all your research, you are at best only searching about a quarter of all information produced.

The Web can be a "Noisy" Untrustworthy Place – Many websites pay for the privilege to be rated higher or more relevant in search results. This means that a website with better content might not show up on your first page of results. Google and other search engines customize your search results based on your activity on the web. This means that your results might not include all views on a topic.

For scholarly, academic, or class-related research, a combination of library and web resources usually produces the best results.

Summon Discovery Service

Summon is a discovery service used to search multiple library resources and databases in a single search. We recommend this resource for starting your academic research projects.

Searching is as easy as
Search: enter your search terms
Refine: use the filters and facets on the left side of your search results.
Get: click on an item to access it