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Five Steps of the Research Process

Often you will complete these steps in the order provided; however, there may be times when you will need to return to a previous step or complete multiple steps simultaneously.

Types of Sources

Research typically involves using a variety of sources including:

  • Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
  • Books
  • Articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers
  • Videos
  • Statistical Sources
  • Websites

Library resources can be found using the Library Homepage.

Basic Search

Use the big search box on the library homepage to search for books, articles, and videos all at once. Check the peer reviewed box if you need peer-reviewed articles. Check "Search only our catalog" if you want only books and videos.

On the results page, use the boxes on the left side of the screen to limit your results by date, type of source, or more.

Advanced Search

Boolean searching is the traditional way to search for information in most online databases and on the Internet. The Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT, are used to create phrases and concepts based on specific rules of search logic.  

Operator Examples Results

business AND ethics
cooking AND Spain

Retrieves records that contain    
ALL of the search terms.

hotels OR motels
www OR world wide web
theater OR theatre

Retrieves records that contain
ANY of the search terms, but
does not necessarily include
all of them.

java NOT coffee
Clinton NOT (William OR Bill)    

Excludes records containing
the second search term.


Truncation or wildcard symbols can broaden your search and allow you to look for variations of words. For example, the truncation sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc. Using a wildcard in the search wom?n would bring up the variations woman and women.

Note: The truncation and wildcard symbols used can vary depending on the electronic resource you are searching. For more information, consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages.

Use quotations marks to search terms as a phrase ("environmental science," not environmental on one page and science on another) and narrow your results.

When looking at search results, take note of any subjects provided. If you find a resource that is perfect for your topic, it is likely that the subject headings for that resource will lead you to other items that will be good resources to use.