Library > Research Assistance > Getting Started on Research

Getting Started on Research

Formulating a thesis

What you can do:

  • Start with a broad topic area (this might already be decided for you as a requirement of a course). Be sure you refine your topic to one that is concise and manageable so that you do not waste time wading through too much information. When in doubt, ask your instructor or a reference librarian for advice.
  • The purpose of your paper will vary with the subject matter, but any paper will include a thesis. The thesis or statement of intent needs to be clearly stated so you are focused in your research and when writing your paper.

How the Library can help:

Finding research to support your thesis

What you can do:

  • Data to support your thesis can be gathered from a variety of sources, including books and journal articles. To find journal articles related to your thesis, you'll need an index, which will provide you with citations to periodical articles.
  • There are also other sources that might be helpful, depending on your topic. Have you thought about finding a biography for a key player in obituaries or Who's Who publications? Have you searched for diaries, correspondences, and other types of primary sources?
  • If you are using the internet for research, it is especially important to evaluate the accuracy and authority of the information you find there.

How the Library can help:

  • Research guides are prepared by subject librarians and are excellent resources for finding subject-specific materials.
  • LOPERSearch is a tool you use to find books, journals, and other materials located in the library. Books and other materials are organized by codes referred to as call numbers.
  • Calvin T. Ryan Library has over 200 electronic databases for searching a wide array of topics. To determine which are best for your topic, check the research guides or browse the databases by subject areas.

Citing your sources

What you can do:

  • A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting. Your professor will be the best person to help ensure you use the correct style guide. You will probably use the style guide preferred by the organizations in your professional area.
  • Please remember: Plagiarism is cheating and cheating is unacceptable. Take pride in your work and give credit where credit is due.

How the Library can help:

  • The librarians at Calvin T. Ryan Library are trained to help you sort through information resources and get you on the path to success. Drop by the library and speak to the people at the reference desk, or contact a reference librarian for your subject area.

When you're ready to write

Adapted with Permission from Drexel University Library 'Getting Started on Research'.