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:
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:
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
Example: urban NOT rural
Combine your operators for more exact searching
Health AND (urban OR city OR residential) AND (“oil refineries”)
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 Serial Publications provides more information.
Research, Writing and Citing - Academic Papers
From the University of Alberta Libraries. Brief overview with lists of guides and handbooks.
Seven Steps of the Research Process
From Cornell University Library. Provides a comprehensive overview of research with links to expanded discussion from each step.
Adapted from SAIT Polytechnic
Library Research Strategy Guide