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How to do Research: Introduction

Use this guide to begin research on a new topic and to learn more about Ryan Library's research tools.

Introduction

Research instruction demonstrates how to locate and evaluate sources for a research paper or project. With your PLNU writing class, you will learn to locate relevant books, full-text articles, and useful internet sites. 

This guide is only an introduction. Seek help from the PLNU librarians when you need it. 

Ask a Librarian

Chat with a librarian here! 

You can also connect via text message at 619-592-8884 or by email.

Before you Begin

Before you begin your research, you should:

  1. Think about what types of information you think you will need to find. 
  2. Decide what type of source would be the best place to find that type of information.

Here are some examples:

Type of information Where to find it
News
  • newspapers
  • websites from news organizations
  • databases 
Information about a specific organization/company
  • websites 
  • company profiles 
Research article
  • scholarly journals
Personal accounts
  • magazines 
  • news articles 
  • blogs
Statistics 
  • websites 
  • scholarly journals 
History, overview, definitions (scholarly)
  • subject encyclopedias
  • books 
History, overview (popular)
  • magazines 
  • books

Library Research Assignment - College Composition

This assignment is distributed via the Library Research Instruction Module on Canvas, and the completed assignment should be uploaded to Canvas according to the instructions.  An additional copy of the assignment is provided here for convenience.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing and refining a topic is an important part of the research process.  One valuable path for exploring debatable current topics is our Credo Reference database, which includes resources like ProCon Headlines and Issues and Controversies in addition to more than 700 specialized encyclopedias. Keep in mind that your topic may need to fit specific criteria assigned by your professor.

Within Credo, we recommend the following:

  • Browse Topic Pages
  • Explore Mind Maps
  • Try your own search

Developing a Research Question