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Introduction to Research: Humanities and Social Sciences

Welcome to the Library

Learning how to conduct research is one of the most important skills a student will learn at university.

This guide will help you begin researching a topic and will take you through the process. The following steps outline an effective strategy for finding information for your research paper, evaluating the information found and documenting the sources.

Steps to Effective Research

  1. Choose Your Topic
  2. Find Background Information
  3. Find Books
  4. Find Articles
  5. Find Web Resources
  6. Evaluate Your Sources
  7. Cite Your Sources

Choosing Your Topic

Identify, develop and refine topic.  Identify the main concepts or keywords.  

Finding Background Information

Consult dictionaries, encyclopedias or other reference resources using the keywords and related words that you identified as search terms in step 1. Identify important issues, events, and people associated with your topic. 

Search Strategies

Learn search techniques you can employ to improve the efficiency of your search results.

Finding Resources


Using words that describe your topic, find books in the online catalogue (Omni). Review results and identify subject headings. Noe citations, the location information and circulation status of the items. 


Search index databases to find articles on your topic. Distinguish between the different types of articles you may come across in your research (scholarly, popular and newspaper). 

The Web

Search techniques for searching the web and using subject directories to locate websites.

Evaluating Sources

Evaluate the authority, quality and appropriateness of the resources you have located.


Resources to help you organize, format and write your paper.

Citing Sources

Use a style manual to be sure to correctly format your citations for both print and electronic resources.