Research Assistance : Research Help
Steps in the Research Process
to avoid Plagiarism (Duke University Libraries)
Research Help Request
The Library Instruction Liaisons offer assistance
to students working on research papers, assignments and projects. The
Liaisons assist students in finding books
and other materials using the Online Catalog, electronic
databases, electronic journals, print indexes and abstracts,
and other resources.
We will help you:
To obtain assistance do one of the following:
- Find books on your topic
- Locate articles on your topic
- Choose appropriate databases for your topic
- Find any other materials
- Utilize effective search strategies
- Interpret citation styles
Guides on a wide range of subject areas are designed to help
you identify information resources relevant to your research,
and provide a first step or additional resources. Click on the
above link then select the subject you wish to research.
Steps in the Research Process
The following seven steps outline a simple and effective strategy
for finding information for a research paper and documenting the
sources you find. Depending on your topic and your familiarity with
the library, you may need to change these steps around, or revisit
a previous step. However, you are strongly encouraged to start with
step one. Adapt this outline to your needs.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP YOUR TOPIC
State your topic as a question. For example, if you are interested
in finding out how the amount of sleep affects the academic performance
of college students, you could ask yourself: "What effect
does sleep have on the academic performance of college students?"
Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. For example:
sleep and performance and students.
STEP 2: FIND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Look up your keywords in the indexes to subject encyclopedias.
Read articles in these encyclopedias to set the context for your
research. Note any relevant items in the bibliographies at the
end of the encyclopedia articles. Additional background information
may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks, and reserve readings,
and the Internet.
STEP 3: USE THE ONLINE CATALOG TO FIND BOOKS
Use the author search to look-up a specific author. Use the title
search if you have a specific title. Use subject searching for
a broad subject. Use keyword searching to narrow your topic or
combine search terms. Print or write down the citation (author,
title, etc.) and the location information (call number and library).
Note the circulation status. When you pull the book from the shelf,
check to see if it contains a bibliography that will provide additional
sources. Bibliographies list citations to books and articles in
one subject area.
STEP 4: USE INDEXES, ELECTRONIC DATABASES AND E-JOURNALS
TO FIND PERIODICAL ARTICLES
Use periodical indexes and abstracts to find citations to articles.
The indexes and abstracts may be in print or electronic (databases)
or both. Identify the indexes and format best suited to your
particular topic; contact the Information
Literacy/Library Instruction Librarian - Research Help Librarian (919)
530-7315 or the reference desk (919) 530-6473.
STEP 5: FIND INTERNET RESOURCES
Use search engines (e.g. Google)
and subject directories (e.g. Yahoo!)
to locate materials on the Web. Check to see if your subject area
has a Research
Guide on the library’s Website.
STEP 6: EVALUATE WHAT YOU FIND
Evaluate the information sources you use, especially those found
on the Internet. Who is the author? What type of audience is the
information intended for? When was it published? Is this scholarly,
popular or commercial? If you have found too many or too few sources,
you may need to narrow or broaden your topic. Check with a reference
librarian or your instructor.
STEP 7: CITE WHAT YOU FIND USING A STANDARD FORMAT
Give credit where credit is due. Cite your sources using
a style approved by your professor. Each discipline has its preferred
citation style. Popular styles are APA and MLA
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This page was last updated: May 3, 2019
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