Library Research: A Step-By-Step Guide

Use this guide to learn more about the research process

Starting with background info

Why start with background information?

An overview of your broad topic area helps you "explore the conversation" by looking at different viewpoint from a non-judgmental standpoint.  You can learn the following:

  • what the key issues are and how you may want to refine your topic
  • who are the stakeholders (the groups or individuals this topic concerns)
  • a context of how your topic relates to the other issues that surround it
  • a historical perspective on your topic
  • specialized vocabulary or search words that are used in your field (you will use these words for searches later in your research process)

Searching and using reference books

How to use a reference article effectively

  • First, find important words or concepts (see highlighted words in image below)
  • Then use those as search words to find other books, journals, videos and websites

(Click to enlarge the image below)

Reference books through Google Books

  1. First, click on the image below for tips on finding reference books (encyclopedias and handbooks) through Google Books

(Click to enlarge the image below)

image of an advanced search page in Google Books

  1. Then, click below to perform your search.

How to effectively read a reference article

Highlight Key Concepts

  • First, find important words or concepts (see highlighted words in example below)
  • Then use those as search words to find other books, journals, videos and websites

(Click to enlarge the image below)

GVRL Global Warming reference article

Digital reference books

Digital Reference Books Online

  1.  Click the he library database links below to access digital reference books and subject encyclopedias
  2. First, try a broad search on your topic, such as:
    -genetically modified foods
    -biotech foods
  3. Then try narrower searches such as:  
    -genetically modified foods nutrition
    -genetically modified foods famine
    -genetically modified foods economic development