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CSTEP/McNair Program


How to Do Research


Feel free to use the following library databases to find out more about your topic.  If you would prefer to use a different database, try using our Research Guides by subject list.

These databases are good STARTING points.  If you need help choosing a topic or just want to see some possible ideas, you can try these.

Database Searching

Did you get too many results?  If so, try some of these ideas to narrow down your results:
  • Narrow by dates (only newer, older, or a specific range of dates)

  • Narrow by type of source (peer-reviewed journals, magazines, etc. based on the assignment’s guidelines)

  • Add another of the search terms you listed above, connecting the two with the “AND” provided in the database’s Advanced Search

  • Using the database’s Advanced Search option, change “AND” to “NOT” to exclude terms you don’t want (ex. “Pride and Prejudice” NOT film)

  • Put any multi-word phrases into “quotation marks” to prevent other words from coming between them

Did you get too few results?  If so, try some of these ideas to expand your results:
  • Using the database’s Advanced Search, enter 2 search terms that are synonyms, connecting them with the word “or” (ex. film OR movie)

  • Enter your main topic in a Subject Search. Look at the subdivisions or subjects given to you to get new ideas for better search terms (find out what the database is calling it)

Last Updated: Feb 29, 2024 2:10 PM

Library Catalog

Tips for Reading Academic Sources

Don’t just highlight- annotate:  If you want to use a highlighter, make sure you also include a note in the margin about why you are highlighting these particular words.  What does this passage mean in the context of your argument or point? 

Be skeptical:  You don’t have to agree with or believe everything the author says. 

Read it again:  I know, you don’t have time.  However, if you are struggling with a certain reading or a sentence or passage within a reading, reading it a second or third time might help.  (and guess what- your professors sometimes do this too!)  If it helps, give yourself a different purpose or guiding question each time you read it. 

Give yourself time to absorb it:  These readings are difficult.  That’s all there is to it.