So it’s the second half of the semester and it has finally occurred to you that you have some serious research papers to do. Be they on the process of De-Stalinization of Khrushchev or the Mating Habits of African Tree Frogs, you are realizing very quickly that you have never researched or written a paper of this magnitude; thankfully, we at the Writing Center are here to give you some tips.
1. The librarians are your friends. Even if you can’t get to the library.
Now we know that libraries and actual books have gone out of fashion in the Internet age, but the library has a number of resources to offer beyond just rows of books (thought those are perfectly excellent resources as well). The most notable of these are the librarians themselves, who are more than happy to help you find sources and plan your paper. See this button?
This button will save your life. Just click it and from the comfort of your dorm you can have a conversation with a librarian on duty; they may later suggest you come into the library, but at least the conversation will be started. You can also email or speak in person with librarians in order to set up scheduled appointments.
2. Wikipedia has its (hidden) benefits:
Now everyone knows that Wikipedia is academia’s devil of choice, and for good reason; we have all seen the hilarious changes that people have made to the site, so the info may not quite be accurate. However, there is a section on every page that can help you out. Scroll to the bottom, and look at the References section.
These are all sources that it is worth your time to look at, though it’s still recommended to take them with a grain of salt (as is standard internet protocol).
3. Books: They’re still very useful.
Now I get it. Books are old and for grandpas who still wore pleated pants and sweater vests and talk about how bread was ten cents a loaf and they punched Hitler right in the jaw during the war. But they are also one of your best sources: use the Hoover Library catalog search to look for books on your topic; you’re guaranteed to find something, and as long as it is in the local library system, you can have it in your hands within a few days.
4. Google: Still Not Doing Any Evil
Now you’ve probably already used Google to look for sources; but are you doing so correctly? Normal Google is fine for basic searches, but if you want to ensure your sources are better verified, you should be using Google Scholar. What is Google Scholar you ask? Well imagine if Google only searched for things your professor would actually want you citing; that’s basically what it does. Granted all sources are not peer-reviewed, but it’s not too difficult to find those that are.
5. The Writing Center. Yeah we’re in the library too.
So you may think that the Writing Center is just a place to plan papers. But that’s not totally true: we are here to do most things (within reason, morality, and legality) that will help you start, develop or improve your paper. That is why from 7-9 on Wednesdays the Writing Center has tutors in the library; from the library we can give you closer access to the resources housed within, including the librarians, library catalog and shelves of lovely books.
-By: Stefan Specian