Good research begins with clear thinking about the assigned task. The best way to start a research paper is to make sure you know what you are supposed to do, so reread the assignment and underline or highlight the critical phrases. These are the ones that tell you the subject, the kinds of resources you should use, the expected length, and the due date.
Before you begin searching for specific books or articles it's probably a good idea to get some information from a more neutral source. This kind of background information will provide a context within which you can place the other sources you find. In this case, a subject encyclopedia, such as
Articles in encyclopedias, especially scholarly subject encyclopedias, can be very helpful in establishing basic information about a person, place, event, or theory and they often have bibliographies that list additional resources worth consulting.
The first place to check for books on your topic is OneSearch, using the Books filter.. Here are some quick tips for effective catalog searches:
If you are looking for books by a writer, use the Author search (last name first).
If you want books about an author, use the Subject Heading Browse search (last name first).
Most books by and about an author are shelved together, so once you have a few call numbers, you can browse downstairs, but you can also browse online..
If you're looking for a particular short story or an essay, a Keyword search works best.
If you discover a book, chapter, or essay by using the MLA Bibliography, search the catalog for the title of the book to see if we own it.