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Research Toolkit: Where to Begin Your Search

Tools, techniques, and resources to help you find the information you need.

 Related Guide: What Kind of Information Do You Need?


Background research helps you develop a more effective topic as well as brainstorm for better search terms or keywords.

  • Your instructor is a great resource! They understand your assignment and can provide great advice about the topic and how to frame it. 
  • Talk to a librarian. Contact information. 
  • Check the WCC Library Research Guides for resources you can explore in specific disciplines. 

 Here are some resources for exploring background information on potential topics:

  • Reference books- Located directly across from the research help desk in the Bailey Library. Here you'll find print dictionaries, and subject encyclopedias, handbooks and guides, which can provide great overviews.
  • Reference databases such as Gale Ebooks (GVRL)
  • The Opposing Viewpoints and CQ Researcher databases can also be good for background information on controversial topics. 

Where you search will depend on the sources you need. To start, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Does your assignment require that you use certain sources?
  2. Does your topic lend itself to a particular type of source? Some topics will be well covered in books, some may require research articles, while some may be best covered in the latest news. Check out the "What kind of information do you need?" page to find out which type of information source(s) will be helpful for your need.
You want to... Where you should start...
Find books Library Catalog
Find articles on a certain topic Databases by Subject
Search an easy database that covers many subjects Academic OneFile or Academic Search Complete 
Find an article by title Smart Search Primo
Find a journal by title List of e-journals
Find newspaper articles America's News, News (Gale), New York Times, Newspaper Plus