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Getting Started with Research

Learn about the research process from topic to writing and citing. Find information about locating sources such as books, articles, and films.

Background Info/Reference Databases - General Subjects

Before you start any research on your topic, you must develop some background knowledge including facts, dates, and names of important people, places, or theories. Books and websites can provide you with that knowledge.

This is important because:

  1. Background sources give you the language that people are using to discuss your topic. You will use this language (look for keywords!) when you start to search databases for scholarly articles and resources on the topic.
  2. This "pre-research" gives you a sense if your topic is focused enough. If your initial searches bring back so many results you can't even figure out what the language is, then you should consider narrowing your topic.

Remember, background information is always a starting point for research, not an ending point.

Library Reference Subscription Databases

Open Web (Free) Resources

4 Places to Find Quick Facts (Infographic)

If you're not sure where to start with a research project, but have a topic in mind, you can start with these suggestions to get ideas:


Long Description of "4 Places to Find Quick Facts" for Web Accessibility

Basler Library Reference Collection

Basler Library has a Reference Collection on the 3rd Floor across from the Information and Research Help Desk.

Basler Library Reference Room with dictionary and globe

Reference works contain background information on a variety of topics related to the major fields of study at Northeast State and beyond. Use this information to check facts, look for ideas, and to get an overview of a topic or field. The items in this collection cannot be checked out, they are kept in the building so that all may use them.

Materials can be very specialized in this collection. For example, Reference Library of Hispanic America.

Reference Books

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources (Video Tutorial)

Check out this video from Suffolk County Community College Library to understand how primary, secondary, and tertiary sources vary by discipline.


Using Wikipedia for Research (Infographic)


Accessible text description of Using Wikipedia for Research

Thanks to IUPUI University Library for allowing reuse of this graphic under a Creative Commons license.