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Mapping Your Research: 5. Select the Right Resources

This guide helps with understanding and planning the research process.

Determining the Right Type of Information

Determining what type of information you need to research your topic will allow you to select the best resources for locating that type of information.  To do this, think about the nature of your research topic.  Here are some sample questions you can ask yourself about the topic:

What subject or area of study does this topic fall under (if any)? The class your assignment is for can help you determine this, but answering "just a general topic" to this question is also acceptable. 

  • Determining this will help you choose which database to use if you are seeking journal articles.

How timely is the topic?  Is this a current issue or is this something that happened or started happening a long time ago?

  • For very recent topics, News resources will be very helpful.  For more historical topics, books and articles will be available. 

Are there a lot of data/ statistics associated with your topic? Ex. The annual income of a certain company, or the population size of Arizona.

  • Statistics and company information sources are available from the Electronic Resources page and in LibGuides, some of which are mentioned in the box to the left.

Will you need primary sources for your research?

  • Primary source materials differ among subject areas, but basically they are materials from a specific time period, written as first hand accounts, such as Newspapers, diaries, letters, etc.  A lot of these types of materials are available and can be found in the library catalog or in our Newspaper databases.  For more information on finding primary sources, plese click the Primary Sources LibGuide link in the box to the left.

Choosing the Right Resources

To find books on a topic, search by keyword in the library catalog.

For journal articles, which will be one of the main sources of information you will most likely be seeking can be found searching our many article databases.  These can be found by clicking on the Article Databases link at the top of the library homepage.  This will take you to the Electronic Resources page.  From here you can select databases based on category (subject area) or type of information source.  So say you are working on a research paper for a Political Science course, you could select Political Science and click Find Resources.

Often times, especially in 100 level courses, you may have a topic that crosses over many subject areas.  If this is the case, a good practice is to select General Purpose Databases from the Category list which will provide you with several multidisciplinary databases to choose from.  It is also a good practice to know that the database Academic Search Complete is a good place to search for just about any topic, except for those that are strictly tied to a specific area of study.