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ENG 100

Library Research Assistance for all students in English 100

Fact Finding vs. Research

Fact Finding vs. Research




Search and search and search again...
Literally Re-search

Typically answers a well defined question

Provides a description, explanation, or understanding of a topic or idea

Answer exists before starting

Answer is not known before starting. It can remain that way or even answered in a variety of ways

Can be accomplished quickly

A process which takes place over time

Acquire Information

Acquire Insight

Facts and data

Discovery and presentation of facts

Information is static - not open to interpretation

Fluid - Open to interpretation based on context, perspective, purpose, etc.

Facts and/or data likely from a single source

Facts and/or data may come from multiple sources

Example:  In 2019 how many students graduated from a 4 year college? 

Example: Why do some students finish college and others do not?

Research Process Overview

The (Re)Search Cycle


Research is a process

Research is a systematic, organized process involving acquiring, interpreting, and assimilating information. All research involves a cycle of stages and can begin at any stage and may pass through many (even all) stages more than once. There is an emotional component associated with each stage as well.  

Define your Need (Uncertainty)

 What do you need to know?  

Define your Topic (Optimism)

How do your needs work with your topic.

Plan your Strategy (Confusion & Frustration)

Where will you look? What tools to use?

Access Information (Clarity & Confidence)

Use Library tools , etc to find information.

Evaluate Information (Sense of (Dis)Satisfaction)

Is this what you need or expect? 


Ask Yourself?

Where in the Research Cycle do I need to be?

Do I have enough to complete my assignment?

Research takes time:

  • You will probably need to search for more than one tool and try many keywords before you locate useful sources.

  • You may realize you are missing a crucial piece of information (and have to search again). 

  • You may realize that you want to focus on a different aspect of a topic or your topic is too big/small.

Define Your Needs

(Re)Define your Information need



What do you need to know?

  • Statistics?
  • First Hand accounts
  • Research Articles

What tools are you encouraged to use?

  • Internet
  • Library Databases
  • Other?

Define your Topic

(Re)Define your Topic



Identify topic and develop thesis if necessary.

  • If you are struggling with a topic, some help is available here.

  • Does your topic require specialized information or vocabulary (i.e. medical or legal terminology)

  • Once you select your topic, many people find it helpful to start asking questions to help identify areas of research:

    • Who, What, Why, Where, and How?

  • Do you need a thesis statement? Consult with your instructor on ways to convert your topic into a thesis.

Is your topic manageable?

  • Select a topic for which you can find a manageable amount of information. Do a preliminary search of information sources to determine whether existing sources will meet your needs.

  • If you find too much information, you may need to narrow your topic.

  • If you find too little, you may need to broaden your topic.

Keyword Development 

  • Start developing which keywords to use for your search.

  • Pay attention to other results to get ideas for other keywords.

  • Think of synonyms or words that will make your search larger or smaller.

Plan Your Strategy

(Re)Define your Research Strategy

Confusion and Frustration


Identify keywords and concepts for your topic

  • Perform a preliminary search using background information sources, Internet Searching, or reviewing your notes/textbook and identify concepts, people, or keywords to help in your search.

  •  You may need to change or refocus your topic at this stage


Identify the right tools and places to find information

  • Who is interested in your issue or problem? Are they researching or publishing on the issue? Do they have a website?

  • Are there any instructions from your instructor concerning websites, scholarly journals, etc?

  • Identify the most helpful or likely places to find information:
    • Books:  Books and eBooks can offer in-depth and very particular information about a subject.  they can also provide an overview of the issue in context or a concise summary of than issue.
    • Encyclopedias:  Reference Materials such as encyclopedias provide background information as well as definitions or an overview.
    • Newspapers:  Offer up to date and local information.  
    • Popular Magazines: Shorter articles written by journalists or reporters usually summarizing or outlining an issue
    • Journal Articles: Written by experts in the field, they can include original research or ideas.  Assumes the reader has prior knowledge on a subject. 

Where to find information?

  • Finding information is not always a problem for researchers.  Finding the right information is.

  • Use the resources recommended by your instructor or the library for help finding legitimate and worthwhile sources.

  • Research Broad to Narrow.  Gain background or overview of the issue before trying to find detailed information. 

  • Find Books, ebooks, and Media

  • Finding articles in Library Databases

  • Other paid Library Resources

  • Using Google Scholar

Access Information

Access and Review Information

Clarity and Sense of Confidence


As you research and find information, ask yourself:

  • Am I finding enough information?

  • Are my keywords working?

  • Are there aspects of the subject/topic I missed?

  • What other avenues of research do I need to explore?

Stay organized!

  • Identify the resources (and sources)  you want to use for your paper and where you will place them in your paper.

  • Identify successful searches and keyword combinations.

Use CRAAP or other method to evaluate your resources

  • There are many different acronyms and methods to help you evaluate resources for your paper.
  • Make sure you are using trustworthy sources.


Evaluate Information

(Re)Evaluate Your Information

Sense of (Dis)satisfaction


Take Notes!

  • Take notes on what you find

  • Make sure you record where you found the information and what type of note it is: summary, paraphrase, or direct quote.

Stay Organized

  • Keep your notes and sources organized so that when it comes time to write, you will be ready to break down your paper into sections that coincide with your notes.

  • The following note taking sheet may help you stay organized and keep good notes.