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The Research Process: Finding Resources

This guide is created to help students through the steps of writing a research paper or project.

Now it's time to find appropriate resources that will fulfill the assignment requirements.        cartoon penguin holding books

Has your instructor given you specific instructions for the the resources you need to use? Do you need books, eBooks, or scholarly articles? How many of these do you need to use in order to fulfill the requirement?  

*Gathering Your Information

Research involves gathering and interpreting information. To answer a question or understand an issue you have to seek relevant information, which helps you develop your own point of view.

It's important to remember that information from outside sources should not stand in for your thinking. Sometimes people believe that gathering information and summarizing it in a paper is all there is to the research process. But finding information is just part of the process.

Research involves applying critical thinking to information. A researcher analyzes the material and develops a perspective on it. The goal is to think critically about the information, not simply repeat its ideas. 

Scholarly Databases


Reliability of Sources

There is a difference between articles in a peer-reviewed/scholarly journal and an article in a popular magazine. Journal articles go through a lengthy review process by other experts in that subject area. Whereas the popular magazine article is generally the opinion of the writer, approval is only done by a general editor, and bears very little factual evidence to defend their claims.

In order to find scholarly information for your research papers your best bet is to use the databases your library subscribes to. These databases are purchased by the library and reviewed by your librarian. 


To determine if an online journal article is scholarly look for these characteristics:

• the article follows a specific format with an abstract, literature review, methodology, results, and a conclusion

• the research method is explained

• the article has a works cited section

• the article has tables and graphs to support the research

• the author(s) are identified 


          cartoon owl with a laptop


So what is a database? It is a collection of data or information organized in a specific manner so that the information can be easily accessed. 

In the library it is referred to as an online collection of scholarly articles that you can search by using keywords.

EBSCO's Academic Search Complete is a good overall database to find articles. Here's a video on the basics of searching an EBSCO database. This Searching Databases library guide has in-depth information on searching.  

This link takes you to a listing of all the databases the library subscribes to - Databases A-Z page.   

One Perfect Source?

Unfortunately you will probably not find that one perfect source that fits your research topic. This video explains different approaches to find your sources. 

NCSU Libraries video

Shared by North Carolina State University with a Creative Commons license. 
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Interlibrary Loan

If you are having trouble finding the resources you need through the library catalog or databases, try an interlibrary loan (ILL). An ILL is an agreement between libraries to loan books, media, or articles.

To search for an item for ILL go to OCLC's First Search and enter Authorization:100108226     Password: spoonriver 

Once you have found the book or DVD go to Borrow From Other Libraries and fill out the request form. 

Here's a library guide with more information about ILL. 

If you have any questions or problems call, email, or come into the library for assistance. 

Reference Sources

If you find that you are running into unfamiliar concepts or vocabulary while researching. Try using the Credo Reference database to provide background information on your topic. 

Credo Logo


Use your list of keywords, phrases, and sub-topics to search for books.

Search the Library Catalog for items the library owns.  


* The library is located on the Canton campus, if you attend on a different SRC campus go to the Borrow From SRC Library page on the website to request an item from the catalog be sent to you. 


The library subscribes to EBSCO's eBook collection. The collection has over 135,000 nonfiction eBooks with an easy to use search interface. Watch this video on the basic's of searching an EBSCO database. 

Quick Tip

The references used by the author in an article or book you're already using is a great place to find additional resources for your project!