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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 the use of medical marijuana by pain patients, you might pose the question, "What effect does the 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, try using reference sources for background or overview information. These sources will help you understand the context of your topic and tell you what is known about it. Common background sources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. You can browse print books in the Reference section of the libraries or try using our reference databases to find these. 

Step 3: FIND BOOKS (Use OneSearch)

SUMMARY: You can use OneSearch to find books and eBooks. Enter your search terms to find materials by keyword, topic, title, subject, or author. For print books, print or write down the book's title and location information (call number and library). Note the current status (Available, On Loan, etc.). For eBooks, simply click the Available Online link to access to the book.

Step 4: FIND ARTICLES (Use databases or OneSearch)

SUMMARY: You can use databases to find articles or try OneSearch. When using databases choose a database that seems suited to your particular topic. Ask a librarian if you need help figuring out which ones are best, or try one of the Popular Databases to get started! Remember to use our database search tips for narrowing or broadening your search results!

Step 5: FIND VIDEO (Use streaming video databases)

SUMMARY: You can use OneSearch to locate DVDs and some streaming video. However, we recommend using the streaming video databases for the most seamless access.


SUMMARY: Evaluating the authority, usefulness, and reliability of the information you find is a crucial step in the process of academic research. The evaluation questions you should be asking yourself about a source are similar whether you are using books, articles, multimedia content, or websites.  


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. Representing the work of others as your own is plagiarism and it can carry serious consequences. Be sure to review your instructor's syllabus and MSJC's Student Conduct page for information on the consequences of not citing your sources!

Always use the citation style required or recommended by your instructor. The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) can help you learn how to use various citation styles correctly.