Introduction to Finding Sources

Evaluate preliminary, intermediate, and advanced search techniques

Have you ever heard a song, made a mental note to look it its name, but then forgot all of the words? You remember wanting to hear it again and add it to your workout playlist, but all you remember is a short bit of the tune? How did go about finding the song?

Man strumming an electric guitar during a rock concert.Chances are, you had to:

  • Investigate to find out the song’s melody. Maybe you hummed the tune for a few friends, or remember that it sounded somewhat similar to another song you already heard, and used that song as a reference point.
  • Investigate to find out the song’s title (E.T., The Lazy Song, Born This Way, Latinoamérica).
  • Investigate to find out who performed the song (Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Kanye West, Calle 13).
  • Investigate to find out what CD that song was on (Teenage Dream, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Born This Way, Entren Los Que Quieran) and if there are other songs you might also enjoy.
  • Investigate to find out where you can purchase or download the song for the best price.

You can’t – and won’t – get what you want without investigating. And it’s really no different with researching. Investigating is essential to your research because the questions you ask and the places you look will give you the results you need to create a convincing and compelling argument. Researching will take time and effort, so it pays off to take the time up front to learn about the best strategies for maximizing your research so you identify and utilize the best sources. The wrong approach can waste your time and effort and result in a weak paper.

So, where do you start investigating? First, you’ll want to follow the research process. Once you have a good understanding of your research assignment and goals, you can begin to search for the right sources. In this section, you’ll learn how follow the research process in order to carefully use search engines and library databases to find scholarly articles you’ll need to write a top notch paper.

What You Will Learn to Do

  • evaluate preliminary research strategies (developing a research plan, basic online searching, using Google)
  • evaluate intermediate research strategies (advanced online searches, finding scholarly sources and primary and secondary sources, basic library searches, librarian consultation)
  • evaluate advanced search strategies (advanced library searches, reading academic texts, using library databases)