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How To Write A Research Paper Step 2: Researching the Topic

Finding books:

Use Point Park’s online catalog PointCat to search for books in the library.  The Library has a wide array of print and electronic books and you can access them all through PointCat.

Search by keyword. For example a keyword search for marketing brings up books with subjects like marketing new products, brand names, and marketing research.  Once you find a useful book, click on the subject term in the record to find other related books.

Look through the books for relevant information, and keep in mind that even though the professor asked for a specific number of references, you will probably need to examine more to get a full idea of the topic.
You can use references in the books you’ve read to make a list of those books or articles the author used that are related to your topic.  Bibliographies are a great way to expand your research into other areas.

You can use EZ-Borrow or Interlibrary Loan to track down these additional resources.  Also don’t be afraid to ask a Librarian to help you get a book you cannot find, they are there to assist you in any way they can.

Finding articles:

Use Point Park’s Online Resources - Databases to find articles.  If you are not on campus, make sure to follow the appropriate link for off campus access.

Pick an appropriate database for your search, but keep in mind that sometimes topics will cross disciplines.  For example both JStor and Academic Search Complete will have articles on history.
 
Before performing a search, if your professor has said she / he wishes you to only use scholarly or peer reviewed articles, save yourself some time by checking any boxes that allow you to limit your search to these types of articles. You can also check the full text box but remember that the Library will get articles for you if not full text in the database.

Sometimes a search in a database or online library catalog can be confusing.  Try using the tools of Boolean searching or truncation to find more relevant articles. See Search Tips  for more information.

Using the web:

Cautiously search online for reputable and reliable web sources. The trouble with the internet is that there is very little control of the content available.  Basically anyone can make a website and upload information that may not even be accurate or even true.

Because of this reason, online research should be limited to websites from universities, the government, and known organizations.

Step 3: Evaluate your sources