The word “research” can seem daunting, but doing independent research can be some of the most exciting work you’ll do in college.
At your university library you have access to rich collections, engaging learning environments, innovative instruction, and high-quality service in support of teaching, learning, civic engagement, and diversity. We encourage you to familiarize yourself early on with the scope of materials and the types of services available to you in an academic library, as they may differ markedly from those available in most school and public libraries. In close partnership with the faculty and other campus departments, your university library is always working to support your development as a scholar.
Knowing that your university library is there to help you is the first step, but you’ll also need to get going on your own. Here are some guidelines that will help you not only do research successfully but enjoy doing it.
The first thing to know is that a university library is probably a bit different than other libraries you’ve encountered in the past. This is because it’s designed for people like yourself who are doing research, more than for people who are looking for a book to read or a movie to watch at home (though your university library has those things, too!).
Warning1.1.3.Order Fulfillment Time.
If you find a really great book through interlibrary loan, remember that it can take up to ten business days to get to you, so it’s important to account for that in your timeline.
Organizing and Analyzing Sources.
Research is a creative, recursive process, and it’s likely that you’ll encounter dozens of potentially relevant sources. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but here are two surefire strategies for handling information overload:
Consider learning how to use a knowledge-management tool. At your university library you can likely access learning management tools like RefWorks and Zotero, and any librarian would be more than happy to help you get started. These tools do so much more than just format citations; they let you organize and reorganize your sources as your research question develops, and they support extensive note-taking.
Your research assignment prompt likely will indicate what kinds of (and often how many) sources you should aim for. But a source is not a source is not a source! How are you using sources? Take things one step further by analyzing precisely how you will use each source when building your argument so that you’re able to use your sources in the most appropriate way. One helpful framework is Joseph Bizup’s BEAM model 1 . BEAM is an acronym intended to help us think about the various ways we use sources when writing a researched argument. Understanding how you’re using a source is essential to using it correctly and effectively.