Step 1: Background Information. After you identify your research topic and some keywords that describe it, find and read articles in subject encyclopedias (not Wikipedia). Credo Reference contains items that will help you understand the context (historical, cultural, disciplinary) of your topic. Background information is the foundation supporting further research. Class textbooks also provide definitions of terms and background information.
Step 2: Dig Deeper. Exploit the citations within background information articles to dig deeper into your subject. Bring the keywords to Academic Search Complete or JSTOR databases to develop your research further. At this stage ask questions of the information specialists (librarians) to be sure you are in the right resource and using effective research strategies.
Step 3: Note Taking. Take good notes as you read. You will save time if you take notes that are in your own words (paraphrasing).
Step 4: Create Citation. Locate citation tools within the databases to help you create citations. You may be able to copy and paste the citations into your tentative citation page. Be sure to check the accuracy with an expert source.
Organize Your Thoughts with a Mind Map
Mind maps are a great tool to help you organize your thoughts and see new information or connections that you might not have previously been aware of. As you develop your mind map, narrow your topic down from a broad topic to a specific research question. You will use this research question, and the keywords you've identified on your mind map, to search the library databases for resources. As you utilize the research databases, continue to fill in information on your mind map to help you see if there are gaps in your research that you need to address.