Research Beyond the Basics
Understand the steps in the research process to efficiently complete your assignment.
Choose a Topic
Choosing your topic is research. Take a look at your assignment instructions and consider how many words or pages your finished paper needs to be and how much time you have to complete it. You can get ideas from your course readings, news, podcasts, or trends in scholarly journals or on social media. You may have to spend some time on this assignment, so choose something that is interesting to you.
Get Background Information
Use background information from textbooks and reference sources like encyclopedias to define your subject and identify any key issues, vocabulary, or themes. Databases like Credo Reference, AccessScience, UpToDate, and ClinicalKey are good places to look. It is not uncommon to find that you need to adjust your topic to make it broader or narrower.
Develop Your Research Question
Use the background information you’ve found to turn your topic into a specific and answerable research question. This will keep your literature search and assignment discussion focused.
Start your research at the library in order to get relevant results, make sure you are using quality sources, and have access to our paid subscriptions.
Before searching, you will need to consider effective keywords and develop a search strategy. For a well-rounded paper, seek out different perspectives on your topic and look for alternative viewpoints or controversies.
Where to Search
- Search library resources for journal articles as well as books and e-books, videos, magazine and newspaper articles – pretty much anything in the libraries’ collections.
- Search the UNE library catalog for books and DVDs that you can borrow as well as e-books and streaming video.
- Research databases in your subject area or discipline will contain only results relevant to your topic. Use research by subject for the best recommended databases and other resources.
- Find primary sources and other unique resources in UNE’s archives and special collections.
Free Interlibrary Loan
You should never have to pay for an article while you are a student at UNE – if there is something you can’t access through our subscriptions or collections, you can request it for free through Interlibrary Loan.
What about Google Scholar or AI?
This link to Google Scholar will recognize your UNE credentials and give you access to our subscriptions. Google Scholar can be a good place to start an exploratory search to get an idea of what has been published on a topic, but it is not our first recommendation because it does not provide filtering tools to refine your results, or vet journals for quality. Learn more about using Google Scholar.
Be cautious with generative AI programs like ChatGPT. They are increasingly embedded in the tools we use every day, but are known to give inaccurate, outdated and false responses at times. Use extra caution with AI-generated citations – they can look real, but don’t exist!
Evaluate Your Sources
Evaluate your sources carefully and make sure that you are following your instructor’s directions on the types of resources that are acceptable for your assignment.
- Your assignment may specify you use only scholary or peer-reviewed sources. Learn how to determine if a source is scholarly.
- If you have been asked to consider a specific evidence level in your research assignment, the evidence pyramid may help you.
Organize, Write & Cite
UNE’s Student Academic Success Center (SASC) can help you with grammar, writing style, drafting, and revision.
We have citation style guides in the formats most frequently used at UNE to help you with formatting your citations.
RefWorks can help you organize and manage your sources, and generate in-text citations and reference lists. Use this tool to easily collaborate with others. Learn more about using RefWorks in this video tutorial series.
Questions & Help
If you have questions on this, or another, topic, contact a librarian for help!