Planning a research strategy will save you time and frustration. The following tips give you some ideas on how to begin your research. And remember librarians are here to help!
Develop your topic:
- Choose a topic that interests you and is appropriate for the assignment.
- Develop a focus to avoid topics that are too broad or too narrow.
- Create a list of key terms you will use when researching the topic. Include synonyms, broader terms and more specific terms.
Conduct a preliminary search:
- Gather background information on your topic in sources such as encyclopedias (either online or in paper).
- Search the All Campus Library Catalog to find books.
- Search the UMD Library Databases to find articles.
- Evaluate your results. Are the sources appropriate? Do they relate to the focus of your topic?
Refine your search:
- Did you get too many results? In this case, you may want to refine the focus of your topic to something more specific.
- Did you get too few results? Perhaps your topic is a bit too specific. Or, perhaps you need to try different search terms.
- For more tips on narrowing or broadening your topic, click here.
Evaluate your sources:
- Continually evaluate the information you find and decide if it is relevant, scholarly, and appropriate for your assignment.
Write and Cite:
- Incorporate your research into your paper by citing your sources correctly to avoid plagiarism.
- Visit the citation guides and the Writing Workshop for assistance.