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Dialogues (100-200)

Steps to Successful Research!


  1. Finding Sources: Identifying your information need and then finding what you need
  2. Evaluating Sources: Learning to recognize when a source is the quality and content that you need
  3. Using Sources: Building your skills at using sources as evidence to support your arguments and in citing your sources


1. Finding Sources

What kind of source do I need: scholarly, peer-reviewed, magazine, news, website?

Carefully read the Canvas page for your course and the requirements of your assignment. And look at the page on the left for your class.

Where can I search for the sources I need for my paper?

Start Here: Library databases to help you develop your expertise in your topic (or to find a topic!). This is Research FOR expertise. Look also at the page for your class (on the left) for more places to search.

Continue Here: Search these library databases using keywords AFTER you have learned about your topic in the "Start Here" databases. This is Research FROM Expertise. These databases are best for peer-reviewed and scholarly/academic articles, but they also include trade journals or news articles.

Note. Learn more about keyword search skills you need for these databases. 

Continue Here: Search online IF this is allowed in your course.  

1. Google Site Search: search by the type of website

  • Add to any google search to limit results to university websites. Example: Are teenagers who play video games more violent?
  • Add to limit the results to government websites. Example: Is the constitution still relevant today?
  • Add site:website name to search a specific website. Example: immigration

2. Google Scholar Search: search scholarly works 

  • If you like an article and want to find more like it, click the "related articles" link to find more.
  • If you need to know if the article is peer-reviewed, copy and paste the title into the library search and look for the notice that it is peer-reviewed. Or google this: is "name of journal" peer-reviewed (remember, even if a journal uses peer-review, not all items in the journal are articles).

3. Elicit AI Search: search scholarly works

  • Ask Elicit a question, it will find academic journal articles and give summaries of their abstracts.
  • Note. Elicit searches a limited number of articles (from Semantic Scholar's publishing partners). 

2. Evaluating Sources

What can I do to check if my sources are credible/reliable?

Try one of these options:

  1. Ask a librarian! They can help you check your sources to see if they match the assignment criteria.
  2. Try the 5Ws test. Assess the article/information by asking yourself: who, what, when, where, and why?
  3. Try the SIFT Method. Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, Trace info to the source.
  4. Try the SMART check. Who or what is the SOURCE? What is their MOTIVE? Who is the AUTHOR, and what are their credentials? REVIEW the information, does anything sound untrue? TWO-SOURCE TEST, how does the information compare to other sources?


How do I know if my source will help me with my assignment?

You are the expert in your paper and topic so you are the best person to evaluate whether the information you find in a source is relevant to your assignment. But the library and your instructor are happy to help!

3. Using Sources

Where can I learn more about how to paraphrase and quote sources?

See this Grammarly guide to Paraphrasing for Better Research Papers. And this Purdue OWL guide - Paraphrase: Write it in your own words.


Where can I find information about citing my sources?

The Lynn Library Citing Your Sources page has all the information you need to create APA in-text and reference list citations. You can also Ask A Librarian! in our chat.