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Finding Resources: Research Tips

July 2020

Research Tips

  • Start with broader research terms to discover which avenue you want to take with your topic and then get more specific.
  • Before you give up on a topic that really interests you, it’s worth talking to a librarian to see if there are potential sources you are overlooking or that are hard to find.  But keep in mind that no matter how good you think your topic is, if there are not enough information for you to use to write your paper, find another topic.
  • Use the library's resources. We pay good money for these databases.  The best information is never free!  If you are not sure which to use - ask a reference librarian!
  • After you’ve conducted background research on your topic, it can be helpful to begin expressing it as a specific question. For example:
    • Idea = Italian participation in the Eastern Front
    • Research Question = What was the outcome of the Italian Expeditionary Corps during the Russian Campaign in WWII?
    • Focused Research Question = Why did the Italian Expeditionary Corps in the Russian Campaign of 1941-1943 fail?
  • Be sure to keep complete bibliographical citations (name of article, journal, author, page number, URL, etc.). You'll need that information later when you compose your bibliography, and it's an incredible pain to have to find the sources again.  The library subscribes to RefWorks (citation management database) for your use.  
  • Don't waste time.  If you get stuck with your research consult a reference librarian!

Prioritizing your reading

  • When you find a book, go to the index first to see if your topic is covered.  Read those pages first.  If you decide later to use the book, read the introduction, that way you can get the author’s overall point.
  • Read the table of contents, if there is nothing in the index - it will give you a clue to which section might be most useful to you.  Read those pages first.
  • Go to the book’s introductory chapter if you do not find anything in the index or table of contents. This should tell you if any part of the book will be useful to you.  Don't linger too long with each book at the beginning - at this time you are gathering sources.
  • Read the first three paragraphs and the last three paragraphs of an article or web page.  Good authors put their main ideas at the beginning of their work and in the conclusions.

Writing Resources

The CGSC Learning Resource Center

Located on the first floor of the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library (CARL), Room C111.  To enroll and to access LRC resources go to CGSC Blackboard.

What They Do:

To provide an opportunity for all students to improve their writing skills as Soldier scholars.  Their primary task is to review student written work for grammar and punctuation accuracy and for clarity of expression.  In addition, they offer workshops, one-on-one coaching, self-study modules, and hard copy and on-line resources that target:

  • Writing Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Study Skills and Time Management

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and they provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects.

CARL Home Page