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Seven Steps to Library Research: Review

Seven Steps to Library Research - A step-by-step guide to efficient research using your MSJC Library.

Seven Steps

STEP 1: YOUR TOPIC (IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP YOUR TOPIC)

SUMMARY: State your topic as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about use of medical marijuana by pain patients, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of marijuana have on pain management?"

STEP 2: TOPIC CONTEXT (FIND BACKGROUND INFORMATION)

SUMMARY: Once you have identified the main topic and keywords for your research, find articles from these sources for background information. These sources will help you understand the context of your topic and tell you what is known about it. The most common background sources are Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and Handbooks from our print and online reference collection (click on the reference link in the Library Databases - Subject List)

STEP 3: FIND BOOKS (USE WORLDCAT)

SUMMARY: Your can use WorldCat to find books. Enter your search terms to find materials by keyword, topic, title, subject or author. Print or write down the citation (author, title,etc.) and the location information (call number and library). Note the circulation status (Available or Checked Out Due Date). When you pull the book from the shelf you can look at the bibliography/references in the back of the book(s) for additional sources.

STEP 4: FIND ARTICLES (USE WORLDCAT OR DATABASES TO FIND PERIODICAL ARTICLES)

SUMMARY: Your can use WorldCat or specific databases to find articles. When using databases choose the database best suited to your particular topic. Or ask at the reference desk if you need help figuring out which ones are best.

Step 5: Find Video

SUMMARY: Your can use WorldCat and the video databases to find video or in the subject list of library databases.  In Alexander Street Press (VAST)  - You can search for videos by author, title, subject or transcript.   In Films on Demand (FOD) - You can search for videos by keyword, title or by producer.  

 


TIP: If you have found too many or too few sources, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic. Check with a reference librarian or your instructor.


 

STEP 6: EVALUATE WHAT YOU FIND

SUMMARY: Evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the process of academic research. The questions you ask about books, periodical articles, multimedia titles, or Websites are similar whether you're looking at a citation to the item, a physical item, or an electronic version on a computer.  

STEP 7: CITE WHAT YOU FIND USING A STANDARD FORMAT

SUMMARY: Give credit where credit is due; cite your sources. Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves two purposes, it gives proper credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows those who are reading your work to duplicate your research and locate the sources that you have listed as references.

 

The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) resources will help you learn how to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA) citations and format styles and contain resources on in-text citation and the Works Cited page, as well as sample papers and PowerPoint presentations.

 

Knowingly representing the work of others as your own is plagarism. (See MSJC's Student Code of Conduct).

Use one of the styles listed or another style approved by your instructor. 

Style guides in print (book) format:

  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009.
    (LB 2369 .G53 2009) [shelved at the reference desk]

    This handbook is based on the MLA Style Manual and is intended as an aid for college students writing research papers to cite sources within the social sciences and includes information on selecting a topic, researching the topic, note taking, the writing of footnotes and bibliographies, as well as sample pages of a research paper. Useful for the beginning researcher.

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington: APA, 2010.
    (BF 76.7 .P83 2010) [shelved at the reference desk]

    This authoritative style manual is for anyone writing in the science and research fields. Chapters discuss the content and organization of a manuscript, writing style, the American Psychological Association citation style, and typing, mailing and proofreading.

Reference Librarian

Adrienne Walker's picture
Adrienne Walker
Contact:
951-487-3450