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Library Research Skills: Strategies for Effective Research: Home

This guide includes the content for the library workshop of the same name.


When you are assigned a research project in a class, most of the time you will be given a broad umbrella topic to research rather than a specific, narrow question to answer in your research. This topic will likely be something that your professor has spent several class periods discussing. The reason they give you a broad umbrella topic rather than a more focused one is so that you are able to narrow your research to something specific about that topic that interests you. This means that before you start your research, you need to create a narrow research topic or question that fits the scope of your assignment. You also need search terms that describe your topic so that you can use them to find sources for your topic. This module will help you achieve these tasks.

There are 5 steps to beginning the research process:

1. Select a narrow, defined topic 

2. Create a research question

3. Select search terms for your topic

4. Decide whether to search via keyword or controlled vocabulary

5. Use Boolean operators and truncation to make your searches better

The tabs on this guide correspond with each of these 5 steps.

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If your professor is requiring you to take Library Research Skills Workshops, or giving extra credit, this LibGuide does not replace a Library Skills Research Workshop, and your professor will not be notified.  You must attend an actual workshop to meet your professor's expectations.

If your professor has included a module in your Canvas classroom on this topic, this LibGuide does not replace that module. You will need to complete the module in Canvas, as it has a quiz at the end, which this LibGuide does not. 

The Research Process