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How to Start Your Research: A DIY Guide: Finding Sources

Finding Sources

Before you begin looking for source material, you should have completed some background reading in sources like your textbook, assigned readings, and/or encyclopedias to help you select an appropriate topic. We can now begin to develop and implement strategies for finding sources that you will read and integrate into your work.

The key activities you will complete in this stage are as follows:

  • -Develop a search strategy: list 2-4 key concepts from your research question/topic and identify synonyms and broader terms for each concept--these are your keywords (search terms)
  • -Identify types of sources you may need to consult: see your assignment requirements, think about what types of sources might contain information you need, and consider consulting a variety of source types
  • -Search for source material: a great place to start is the Research by Subject guide for your subject area(s), which recommends databases and other subject-relevant resources
  • -Determine relevance: read abstracts and descriptions of articles, books, and other sources to determine whether they appear to be relevant to your topic
  • -Keep track of sources: This will make it easier for you to find them later. If you choose, copy and paste citations/URL into a document for later.

If you’re having trouble finding sources, check the Research by Subject guides for subject areas that relate to your topic to find relevant databases and other recommended resources. Consider trying alternate keywords and/or getting help from a librarian. You may also want to return to “Choose a Topic” and consider re-defining or narrowing your topic. Contact your librarian for help developing your search strategy and identifying the best databases and other resources to find information about your topic.

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Additional Material

If you are signed into your google drive account, you will be asked to create a copy of the Checklist and the Worksheet.  Click "Make a copy" to create your own copy which will be saved in your drive for your use.


All Bucknell students are welcome to make an appointment with a librarian to consult about their research-related assignments, and to make an appointment with a Writing Center staff member or Peer Writing Consultant to consult about their writing.