chat loading...
Skip to Main Content

April 4th-13th: The Library Student Survey is active!

All students should have received an e-mail invitation to take the survey with the subject line “Your Opinion Matters: Take the Library Student Survey!”

Please take a moment to fill out this short, anonymous survey and help us improve library services.

ENG 3115 - Scheidt - Style: Library Research Process

Research & Refine

Searching helps you define your topic! Once you begin considering an idea for your topic, do some searching. This will help you refine your topic idea and brainstorm ideas for finding the best sources.

Where do I start my search?

General Research Databases

These databases contain scholarly sources from a wide variety of academic disciplines. They can be helpful to see if your search terms are specific enough and to get a broad overview of the existing literature on your topic.

Subject-Specific Databases

These databases focus on particular areas of study. You can see the library's full list of over 200 available databases on our Databases A-Z page!

Background Information

Background information sources allow you to search encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other sources that can give you factual, historical, and background information on people, places, things, and ideas.

How do I refine my search?

Keywords and Search Terms

When searching for sources, pay attention to the language that the authors of those sources use. Many scholarly articles will have a list of associated keywords in the article itself. Databases will often associate sources with "subjects" that you can then use to search. Some databases will have a thesaurus or controlled vocabulary to further help you brainstorm.

Try Other Resources!

The reason why we subscribe to over 200 databases is because they all contain different, specific content. Try your search in another resource to see if you're missing anything.

Digging Deeper in Your Research

Once you've explored your topic, you may need to dive deeper into the library's resources. Use the 3 resources below to help get a fuller picture of your research topic.

Citation Searching

Citation Searching

Use the citations and/or references in sources you find to help you see the scholarly conversation surrounding your topic. Forward and backward searching are techniques you can use to do this:

Forward Searching

Which articles have cited the article you found? These are articles published after the article in question, often bringing new perspectives and connecting additional ideas.

You can perform forward searching in a few ways. Search the title of the article in either Google Scholar or Scopus to see the newer articles that have cited your article.

Backward Searching

Backward searching refers to using the bibliography and references listed in an article to find earlier articles published on the topic. These resources can help you see the history of a topic and its foundational literature.

You can use backward searching by utilizing both Journal Finder and the library's catalog, detailed further below.

Journal Finder

Journal Finder

Journal Finder allows you to search for specific journals and periodicals. You can use it to see all of the articles published in that journal that we have access to. Search the name of a journal to find all the places we have access to it.

Full-Text Searching and Interlibrary Loan

Full-Text Searching and Interlibrary Loan Using the Library Catalog

To check whether we have full-text access to a specific journal article, simply search the title of the article in the library's catalog. This will search all of our databases for full-text access.

If you can't find the article in the search results, change the "Held by Library" on the left sidebar to "Libraries Worldwide." This will show you other libraries that have full-text access to the article.

You can request the full-text of an article to be sent to you through Interlibrary Loan by clicking the button that says, "Interlibrary Loan / Campus Delivery" and filling out the form.

Once you submit the form, you should receive a PDF of the article via email in a few days.


Profile Photo
Lauren Ksa
Smith Library - First Floor
Subjects: Education, English