Section 1: Getting Started with Your Research

Choosing a Topic

One of the most difficult parts of a research paper or project is getting started with a topic and knowing where to look for information that can help you narrow your interest. The following resources make up a small proportion of those available at the Sterne and Lister Hill Libraries, but are a good place to jump start your research efforts. To begin, start by searching into recent issues of newspapers and magazines for ideas.

  • Newspaper Source - provides cover-to-cover full text for 47 national (U.S.) and international newspapers. The database also contains selective full text for 390 regional (U.S.) newspapers. In addition, full-text television & radio news transcripts are provided from CBS News, CNN, CNN International, FOX News, NPR, etc. This linked research guide will show you how to search for local newspapers.
  • National Newspaper Abstracts - Abstracts and indexing for New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal
  • LexisNexis News - Over 4000 newspapers from the world; includes Chronicle of Higher Education and student newspapers.

Can't find what you are looking for? Go here for a list of other NEWS databases available.


Constructing a Search

Once you have found a general area of interest, you will need to take a more in-depth and narrower look at the topic by constructing a "smart"and efficient search of more scholarly literature. The resources below demonstrate effective means of conducting a search.

Sterne Library Tutorials:

  • Constructing a Search - This is an interactive online resource that provides guidance on effective searches of library databases.
  • Research Worksheet - This accompanying worksheet will help narrow your search.

Lister Hill Library Tutorials:


Finding articles

The next step is to conduct a literature review, which is to compile the research that has been previously conducted on a topic area. The databases below provide access to articles conducted by more accredited scholars and researchers.

Sterne Library (General Databases)

  • Academic Search Elite - This database contains full text for more than 2,100 journals. More than 190 journals have PDF images dating back to 1985.
  • Academic Onefile - Contains peer-reviewed, full-text journals and reference sources with millions of articles available in both PDF and HTML full text.
  • Reader’s Guide Full Text - A searchable full-text database plus abstracting and indexing for a broad selection of the most-wanted popular periodicals.
  • Research Library - The database includes more than 4,070 titles—nearly 2,800 in full text—from 1971 forward.

Sterne Library (Subject Specific Databases)
  • Subject Specific Databases This links you to a website of 44 subject areas, ranging from Accounting to Women's Studies. Each subject area has multiple searchable databases.

Sterne Library Tutorials:
  • Locating Articles - This tutorial will help you identify and search the most appropriate databases given your topic.

Lister Hill Library (Popular Scholarly Journals)

  • PubMed (Biomedical literature) - Interface for searching MEDLINE, the online index of biomedical journal article citations from 1950 to present. Premiere database of medical literature.
  • CINAHL Plus with Full Text (Nursing and Allied Health) - Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Indexing for 3,024 journals for nursing and allied health. Includes Evidence-Based Care Sheets, books, nursing dissertations, conference proceedings, standards of practice, & software.
  • Web of Science - Web version of Science Citation Index. Provides researchers, administrators, faculty, and students with quick, powerful access to the bibliographic and citation information they need to find relevant, comprehensive research data. Overcome information overload and focus on essential data from over 3,700 of the world's leading scientific and technical journals across 100 disciplines
  • All databases and resources - this link provides you with an "A to Z" list of all the databases and resources available at Lister Hill Library.

Lister Hill Tutorials:
  • Finding Articles - This links to a list of tutorials that includes a Finding Articles subsection in the Lister Hill Library.


Find books

You will also want to gather the various books that are written about your subject. The resources below will provide instructions on how to locate those books. Plus, if the libraries do not have the book or article in their collections, you can always use Interlibrary Loan to get the book or article that you need.

Sterne Library

  • Catalog - the catalog will show you the location, format, call number and status of all periodicals held within the library.

Sterne Library Tutorials:
  • Local Catalog - this tutorial will help you learn how to locate materials in Sterne Library's online public access catalog.

Lister Hill Library

  • Catalog - The catalog lists books, journals, online resources, videos, etc. to which the library provides access.
  • Ebooks - this webpage will enable you to search the available Ebooks, as well as offering, full text searching and title browsing.

Lister Hill Tutorials:
  • Finding books (handout) - This is a Word document that will assist you in finding books.,
  • Finding eBooks - Provides a brief overview on how to find eBooks at Lister Hill Library.

Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad) & Document Delivery: Interlibrary Loan is where the library gets articles or books for you that are not in their collection. Articles are sent to you electronically, books are held for you to pick up and check out. Document Delivery is a service where the library sends you electronic copies of articles from our collection, saving you the time of copying them yourself.

Properly citing information

Once you have gathered your resources you want to make sure you have properly cited the information in your paper to give the authors of the work you are referencing proper credit. Plus, Each discipline uses its own citation style. You should make sure that you are using the appropriate format for your paper.

Sterne Library

Citing Your Sources - This link will take you to the library's main citation resources. From here you should be able to get the appropriate guidelines needed to various methods of citation. The most popular citation formats are American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), Modern Language Association (MLA) and Turabian.

Sterne Library Tutorials:
  • Citing Materials - the tutorial is a quick look at the available citation resources at the library.

Lister Hill Library

Style Manuals and Writing Guides - this link will take you to a list of style manuals and guides (American Medical Association (AMA), American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago, etc.) which offer references for appropriate citation.

Lister Hill Tutorials:

Resource Guides

For a list of general research resources that may help you during your research, please look at the following:

Ask a Librarian

Your best source for information are the librarians. They are their to help you and will certainly be able to assist you with your research efforts. Do not hesitate to call on them for help. You'll be glad you did.

Library FAQs

For answer to frequently asked questions about the Libraries please check the links below.