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Senior I.S. Advice from the Librarians: Fall Planning Advice

#1. Decide on a topic early.

Some disciplines recommend that you:

  • use subject-specific encyclopedias for background and ideas for a topic,
  • find a few, key journal articles to get you started, or
  • choose a topic within the ongoing research of your advisor.
  • choose a topic you are passionate about.

Whatever the case, all disciplines recommend that you:

  • settle on something that will keep you interested and motivated for an entire year.

The librarians recommend that you:

  • decide on your topic early, so you can find the research resources you need early in your research process.

#2. Articulate your topic clearly.

The heading says it all: Articulate your topic clearly.

This is important when seeking help from someone in the library so the library staff can direct you to the appropriate resources.

#3. Identify your "Go To" librarian.

The Library Staff page links to a Subject Librarians page.

Get to know your department's Subject Librarian!

#4. Sign up for a library Research Consultation.

Take advantage of the Libraries' one-on-one research help appointments:

This is one of the best services the library has to offer you as you work through your research. Ask your friends who have already had an appointment if you don't believe us.

#5. Keep track of keywords that describe your topic.

When searching for resources in Databases (library-subscribed), CONSORT library catalog, Summon, and Google Scholar, etc., knowing what words to type in for a successful search is half the battle. That's why they are call KEYwords!

Grouping keywords into concept groups helps you create search strategies that work, too. Check out the following worksheets!

#6. Choose relevant, authoritative resources.

The next step is to choosing relevant/authoritative resources within your search results.


Does the source...

  • ... serve as a primary or secondary resource?
  • ... serve as an example or prove a point?
  • ... answer one or more of your research topic questions?
  • ... explain the disciplinary theory or theories you are using?


Is the source...

  • ... scholarly - is it from a well respected journal (peer-reviewed) or publisher?
  • ... cited by others?
  • ... a book that has positive or negative reviews?
  • ... written by an author who publishes frequently on the topic (an expert)?

#7. Organize your work from the start.

Librarians believe that citation managers can be a huge help in keeping track of your resources.

We offer workshops on the following citation manager that is popular on campus:

Check out our Zotero Help guide online if  you are unable to come to one of our workshops.

#8. Refine your topic if/when necessary.

If the resources available require you to refine or revise your topic, no problem. The library is happy to work with you at any point during the process.

You can set as many Research Consultation appointments as is necessary, should the revision in your topic require it.

#9. Ask for help along the way.

Research Help in the Libraries is available in many forms and formats (in person at the Research Help Desk, via phone, text, chat, email, and, of course, the Research Consultation. See the Research Help page to find our our Research Help Desk hours and service descriptions.

#10. Seek opportunities to build your skills along the way.

Attend any workshops you need through the: