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Getting Started with Research

A guide to help with the essentials of library research

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Where to get Ideas

Green lightbulb icon from Noun Project In some cases, your professor or instructor will give you a topic. In others, you need to come up with your own. Here are some places to get ideas:

  • Class readings
  • News
  • Conversations with others
  • Visiting your professor's office hours
  • Consulting with your Librarian
  • Podcasts
  • Inspiration from your environment

Research is a Process (Infographic)

Research is an iterative process, meaning it's repetitive but you learn as you move forward and make changes. It's more cyclical than straightforward or linear. Use the side navigation to learn about each of the steps of the process, and don't be afraid to jump around between steps.

"Research is a Process" infographicLong description of "Research is a process" infographic for web accessibility

Thanks to IUPUI University Library for allowing remix of this graphic under a Creative Commons license.

Getting Started with Research - Choosing a Topic

Picking Your Topic

Sometimes you have too many ideas... or you have no idea where to begin.



Getting Started 
  • Make sure you understand your assignment. Talk to your professor or graduate assistant if you have any questions.
  • Think about your interests. What would you like to spend time learning more about? Look over your course materials and lecture notes for ideas. Write down a list of keywords and phrases that interest you.
  • Use a topic ideas database such as CQ Researcher or Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Read current periodicals, browse the internet, and check out reference resources and encyclopedias such as Gale Virtual Reference Library
  • Be careful not to pick a topic too narrow or too broad. You might not be able to find enough relevant information or you might be overwhelmed with too much information. As you start your research, you might need to adjust your topic. 
  • Check out the Research Guide for your subject area, which will include links to helpful resources commonly used by researchers. Our subject specialist librarians create these guides -- contact yours with questions and to get personalized help with your research. 

Choosing Your Topic is Research (Video Tutorial)

Watch this short video from NC State University Libraries about choosing a research topic.

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