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Begin My Research: Home

Starting points for students who are new to college-level research and/or just don’t know where to begin a newly assigned research project.

Developing a Topic; Generating Search Terms

Getting Started

green light Knowing the scope, background, issues, and terminology of a topic can provide a solid basis for your research as well as help you focus on a specific paper topic.

Researching a specific location? Check out the Country, State or City guide.

Encyclopedia articles, essays, and overview articles as found in the following databases are excellent starting points. If you are not finding what you need in Credo or Points of View Reference Center, you can further look into some of the library's multidisciplinary databases.  You will be faced with a mix of different types of articles, but look for literature reviews which will offer topic overviews.

Because these are basic introductory resources and many times will constitute common knowledge, you may NOT want to cite them in your research bibliography.  In fact, many citation styles state that encyclopedia and/or dictionary entries should not be cited.

Points of View Reference Center

Points of View Reference Center provides overviews of topics, including arguments on multiple sides of an issue. In addition to original essays, it includes articles from leading political magazines, newspapers, radio/TV transcripts, primary source documents, and reference books.

Ready, Set, Go

Image of runners at the starting block

Planning Assistance

Could the quality of your research projects be improved by not waiting until the last minute?

The Research Assignment Calculator will help you plan your research project by providing tasks and deadlines to complete. 

In addition to improved scheduling, the Research Assignment Calculator provides links to websites offering assistance for each step of the research process.

Wikipedia

In addition to using the reference resources highlighted in this guide, you may want to consult Wikipedia to gain a general understanding of a topic or to uncover bibliographic references related to an entry.

When doing academic research, you certainly would not want to rely solely on a Wikipedia article, nor in most cases should Wikipedia be included when listing your reference sources. See this additional information from the Williams College Libraries.

Reliable Internet Searching