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Education: Getting Started

Subject Research Guide -- Education

Where to begin ....

Getting started is often the most challenging step in the research process. You may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • What topic should I choose?
  • What search terms will work best?
  • Will there be enough information on my topic?
  • Where do I go to get background information on my topic?
  • Where do I get recent information?
  • How do I know if my articles are scholarly?
  • Can I use the Internet? How do I know if I'm getting "good" information that I can use in my research?
  • How do I cite my sources?
Browsing the library's reference books, online catalog, and databases will help you select a topic and find search terms to use in conducting your research. You will also get a feeling for how much information is available on your topic and whether you need to broaden or narrow your focus.

Once you've settled on a topic, click on the tabs above for finding books/multimedia, finding articles/databases, and finding other resources (such as good, "safe" websites!). You can search for information right from this guide.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. To see an illustration of the research process, click on the down arrow to the right of the "Getting Started" tab above and select "The Research Process" for a visual representation of how research "flows."

The Research Process

Doing research is a process.  It is not always "linear,"  following a straight line from selecting your topic to getting all of your information to writing your paper and citing your sources.  Take a look at the flowchart below:

The Research Process
Steps How?
Select a topic Browse reference books, e-books, and journal and database articles
Determine if there is enough information on your topic
  • If there is not enough information, try to broaden your topic
  • If there is too much information, try to narrow your topic
Get background information
Get recent information
  • Look at the search results in the library catalog, which should be a mix of books, e-books, e-journals, and database articles
  • From these results, choose recently published articles.
Write your paper
  • Use a style guide (MLA, Chicago, Turabian, APA)
  • Cite your sources
Ask a Librarian
Revisit your steps

You may need to revisit certain steps in your research process based on:

  • Search terms you select
  • Amount of information you retrieve
  • Type of information you find
Get started Click on the arrow to the right of the "Getting Started" tab above and click on "Reference Resources" to start searching for information in our reference collection