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How To Do Research: Searching for Information

An introductory guide on the research process for graduate students.

Searching for Information

Once you have decided on a topic and determined what types of sources you need for your research, you are ready to begin searching for information.

It is helpful to create a search plan using the steps below to keep your search on track:

1. Determine where to search for your information. 

For articles, look for a library database that matches your research topic. You can find an alphabetical list of all of the library's databases and their descriptions in the A-Z Databases list, accessible through the "Databases" box on the library homepage. For recommended databases, see the DBA Research Toolkit.

2. Select your keywords, or search terms, that can be used to search for your information. 

Keywords are the most important words in your topic statement; they define what your topic statement is about. The more keywords you can think of to describe your topic, the better! It may be helpful to keep a keyword list when you are researching a topic to help you remember words you have already tried, the combinations you have used, as well as new keywords you may want to try.

3. Decide what search strategies you can apply to your searches to retrieve the best results.  

Remember that research is an iterative process, so that you may need to repeat search steps discussed in this section more than once to retrieve the best information for your research project. If you are uncertain about your results on the first try, don't be afraid to revisit different steps until you are satisfied that the information you retrieve will support your research.

For more information on searching within the library databases, see the "Navigating Databases" subtab on this page.

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Research Appointments

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The CSU librarians can support you during the research process with personalized reference services. We are happy to help you with the following tasks:

  • Accessing and using the CSU Library databases in order to create a peer-reviewed literature review with library resources
  • Using free personalized database folders within multiple database platforms to organize your research
  • Brainstorming keywords and recommending search limiters to use
  • Locating the dissertations and theses that may support and inform your research process