The best help you can give yourself is to start early.
Go from a general topic, to a more specific topic and then hone it to the precise topic that you will research. For example:
Your precise topic - health effects of oil refineries in urban areas.
State your topic as a question. This will help you formulate your thesis or the main purpose of your topic. This will usually be stated at the beginning of your paper. For example, you might pose the question:
In addition, you can brainstorm other questions that might have bearing on your topic, such as:
Are there studies comparing resident’s health before and after a refinery has opened?
Search the Internet for authoritative websites
How do you do this? There are 3 steps!
Tip: Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases, such as: “oil refineries”.
Example: health AND urban AND oil
Example: (urban OR city OR residential) -- put words joined together by OR in brackets
Example: urban NOT rural
Combine your operators for more exact searching
Health AND (urban OR city OR residential) AND (“oil refineries”)
Are there references and/or footnotes?
You should also consider your use of scholarly and popular publications in your research. Generally, scholarly articles - those written by experts for academic periodicals - add more weight, or importance, to your research than articles found in popular magazines. This guide on the Types of Journals provides more information.
Adapted from SAIT Polytechnic
Library Research Strategy Guide