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Scholarly Research Tutorial: 1. Starting Research

Wondering where to start finding sources for a paper? Not sure where to go beyond Google? Start here for a quick tutorial in effective research methods for scholarly papers.

Learning Outcomes

After completing Module #1, students will be able to:

  • identify the benefits of following the research process;
  • narrow their topic and choose appropriate search terms;
  • articulate the difference between popular and scholarly sources; and
  • understand how to select appropriate research tools based on their topic and need.

Whoa, nelly.

In 2010, a company called OCLC did a study and found that 83% of college students start their research in a search engine¹.

This makes sense, right?  When we're looking for the phone number to a restaurant, sports scores, or celebrity gossip, we go to Google, Bing, or Yahoo, type in a few words, click on a link near the top of the page, and get what we need.

So when a professor asks you to write a research paper, it's extremely tempting to do the same thing.  Head over to Google, type in the name of your topic, find some information, and start writing.  This tactic will find you some information.  It likely won't find you academic information, largely because Google doesn't find you all the different types of information. 

Our advice: SLOW DOWN. 

Take a few minutes to think about your project and come up with a plan of action. You'll save time in the long run and find better resources. 


1. OCLC. Perceptions of Libraries, 2010. Dublin, OH: OCLC, 2011. p. 54. Available here.