with a reference librarian
We can help you:
Find or narrow a paper topic,
locate appropriate sources,
Or find us at the
Learning Commons Desk
9-6 M-F, 10-2 Sa
Research at the college level is an opportunity to discover something completely new. Unlike Googling or using Wikipedia, using library resources ensures that you will find information that is credible, accurate, reliable, and cites its sources.
Why can't I just use Google?
Try it yourself: ask Google "Is the Earth flat?" Many of the results on the first page are wrong. Google ranks results by how popular they are or how much advertisers pay; it does not show you results based on how true or "good" they are.
Why can't I just use Wikipedia?
Your instructor will likely dock points on your paper if you cite Wikipedia sources. Anybody can write or edit a Wikipedia article. While that brings attention to underrepresented topics, it also helps anonymous people publish incorrect information.
What makes library resources so special?
Library resources had to be reviewed by someone other than the person who created them. These editors or reviewers act like gatekeepers, goalies, or referees; they keep out information that is incorrect or inaccurate.
We made a guide just for you! Our Place to Start will walk you through doing research if you haven't done it before. Even if you have, we recommend taking a look. You will learn how to research efficiently and effectively.
We also have guides based on department, discipline, and/or major. You can see them at the top of all our web pages as "Research Guides," or you can click here to see them.
You need to tell your instructor where you got your information from. Aside from proving that you didn't make it all up, listing your information sources allows your instructor to learn more about your topic by reading what other experts had to say about it before you came along. This is called citing your sources, and it is a key part of all research.
Different citation styles have detailed rules that ensure that everyone cites sources the same way. Our Citation Guides, available at the top of all library web pages, can help you learn about the different styles and how to use them. We are also happy to help you in person or online - click the red "Need Help?" box on this page.