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Ask A Librarian


Resources and tips for completing research assignments.

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Jeff Werst
Downtown Campus Library, 1549 University Ave., Morgantown, WV 26506-6069

Where do I Begin?

The first step of any research assignment is to understand the assignment itself. Take the time to carefully read the assignment, and even double check your syllabus to see if this assignment might relate to another one that could provide more information. You will want to start by thinking about some basic information:

  1. When is my assignment due?
  2. What do I need to research / what is my topic?
  3. Does my instructor recommend any specific databases, journals, or even search terms to start with?
  4. How many sources do I need, and what types of sources are required?
  5. What citation style do I need to use for my assignment?
  6. When is my assignment due?

While these might seem like obvious questions, working through them in steps can help you better plan for your assignment. The assignment due being mentioned twice isn't an error. While your instructors and the library are always happy to help, you don't want to be stuck asking for help at the last minute.

Find a Topic Overview

While most assignments will require you to use scholarly sources, popular sources can be a good place to start as you refine your search. The "What are Scholarly Sources?" tab goes into more details about the differences. However, if you are struggling to find a topic, or need more information to narrow your topic down, a quick search in a popular source such as "Popular Science Magazine" can provide insight to get you started, or possibly even direct you to actual scholarly sources depending on the quality of the journalism.

Top Chemistry Journals