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Research Process

The following is an effective strategy for conducting research.

Think of a topic.

Identify a topic of interest to you and form a question about it. Underline the key words in your question to use when conducting your searches.

Find background information.

Locate background information on your topic. Create a list of important events, people, and key words associated with your topic.

Search scholarly, academic, and professional sources.

Search multiple scholarly, academic, and/or professional sources using the background information you found on your topic. Determine how each new source sheds light on your topic.

Cite your sources.

Create a citation for each source you used for your assignment. You must always give credit to where you located information.

Research is challenging and occasionally frustrating. You may have to revisit some or all of the steps in the above process several times. Please contact a librarian if you need help with your research.   


Currency:  How recently was the resource created? Is it up-to-date?

Relevance:  Is the resource's information relevant to the subject of your research?

Authority:  Is the creator an expert? Is the creator of the resource qualified to talk about the subject?

Accuracy:  Is the information true?

Purpose:  Why was the resource created? Was it created to inform scholars? Was it created to promote a cause? The purpose may lead the creator to omit relevant information from the resource.

Choosing Sources

The following defines several different types of sources: 


Books usually provide in-depth coverage of a specific topic. They may not include immediate information on a topic as the writing and publishing process takes time. The Library owns print, audio, and electronic book collections.


Articles are usually published in magazines, journals, or newspapers. They provide information on a topic, and, depending on the publication of the article, may contain more current information on a topic than a book. The majority of our article collection may be found online through our database collection.


Videos may contain in-depth coverage of a topic. The currency of the content covered depends on its publication date.


Websites may contain in-depth coverage of a topic. Ask yourself some questions before trusting a website, specifically regarding the authority, objectivity, and timeliness of the information.


A database is a structured set of data. The Library owns almost 90 database, and the majority of the databases are provided by NC Live. Think of NC Live as a virtual mall. In this mall, we have different stores (databases). Located within the stores we have different brands (content providers) or different types (sources) of information. The majority of our databases contain articles, but several databases provide eBook and streaming video collections.