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EN 1201 - College Writing II (Turner)

Research like a pro

Step #1: Ask good questions

It is important before you start your research, to spend some time thinking about your topic. By identifying key themes, you will be able to develop a better idea of what your research might look like.
Start by trying to answer the following questions:
What don’t you know about this topic?
Why is it important?
Why are you interested in it?

Step #2: Figure out what kind of information you need

 Consider your assignment and its purpose. Are you writing an overview of a topic or taking a stance on an issue? Who will be reading it? There any many different types of resources and answering this question will tell you what kind of resources you should use.
Research articles are best for writing about new developments in a field. They are the gold standard for papers in the sciences because they are written by experts, for experts
Review articles are like research articles in that they look at a specific field. They are useful for learning what has been done previously and what the trends are.
Popular articles cover very current topics. They are written by journalists for the general public.
Books and encyclopedias are best for getting an overview on a topic. 

Step #3: Find the research you need

The Library's website is a great place to start your research because our resources are a higher quality than what you can find free on Google. 

The big search box is called Summon. It is a "Google-like" tool that searches many DelVal databases (and the book catalog) at the same time. It is a nice time saver, and it often uncovers resources that you might otherwise have overlooked.

We also have many other databases, which are organized by subject, which might be better for your research.

Make your paper shine

Step #4: Make sure it is good

Does this match what I have found elsewhere?
Important characteristics:

qualified author will have a background in the field they are writing about. The authors should not show bias. Opinions are backed by research and evidence.

current publication date is something within the last 10 years typically. This can be shorter in the sciences.

bibliography or other references are important because they let us know where the author is getting their information from.

Step #5: Organize your thoughts

Now that you have some research you want to use, outline what you need to understand and deal with each piece individually. Identify connections as you write.
Find 1-2 resources to support each topic. You are unlikely to find one article or book that is going to cover everything you want to talk about. 

Step #6: Join the Conversation

Read through the bibliography or works cited. Are there papers that are cited a lot? Are there other resources that might be useful to you?

Most of our databases include tools to help you find other people engaged in the conversation.

Look for areas of overlap in your reading. Keep these questions in mind:

  1. Do any authors bring up the same points?
  2. Do they agree or disagree?
  3. Why does an author bring up a specific point, and how can you relate it to your own ideas about the topic?

Beat research stress


RefWorks is a new way to collect, manage, and organize research.  You can read, annotate, organize, and cite your research as well as collaborate by sharing collections.

From simple bibliographies to papers formatted with in-text citations or footnotes, RefWorks handles it all. ​To learn more about RefWorks, use our RefWorks research guide.

To create a RefWorks account:

  1. Go to the link below and click Create account
  2. Fill in your information, making sure to use your DelVal email address.  
  3. Go to your inbox and click the email link to complete the activation process. 

Already have an account? Just go to the link below and click "Log In"