Where do I start?

Have a paper to research and not sure where to start? Use this guide!

Above all, ask for help! Your professor, your subject librarian, the Writing Centre -  all are people available to help you!

1. Your topic

Spending 15 minutes thinking about and getting advice about your topic will save you many hours of frustration later!

Ask a librarian, your professor, or someone from the Writing Centre for help choosing a good topic.

Watch this 3-minute video, Picking Your Topic IS Research, to learn how choosing your topic is part of the research process.

Browse one of our "In Context" databases to help you start to come up with a good topic idea, especially for assignments where your topic can be almost anything; these will all help you identify a topic and find a few starting sources:

Learn more about: Choosing Your Topic

2. Convert your topic into a structured search

Whether you plan to use a library database like OneSearch, or even Google, converting your topic into a structured search will get you the best results.

Learn more about: Converting your topic into a structured search

3. Finding books and articles using OneSearch Lite

OneSearch Lite is a huge search engine of books and articles available to you at UPEI.

You can limit your search to only scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles, to just books, to only materials published recently, etc.

Watch this 7 minute OneSearch Tutorial video to learn the basics.

Some other basic concepts that will help you in this step are:

4. Citing the sources you find

OneSearch has a basic "cite" feature that will help you format the citations in MLA or APA format. Look for the "cite" button at the far right inside each individual full record display.
See a short interactive video on getting the citations from OneSearch

RefWorks is a more advanced tool to help you save and then format your citations in any style format.

Citing Sources provides links to other sites and tutorials to help you with APA, MLA, and Chicago formats.

More Help

Some additional helpful links for writing your paper:

Academic Essentials videos - a series of short videos made by UPEI students about the whole process of writing a paper

Research Basics: an open academic research skills course - tutorial from JSTOR, includes both videos and text transcripts for searching, understanding scholarly sources, and citing sources

Writing an Essay (link to another library's tutorial)

Note-taking (link to another library's tutorial)

What color is the sky? Examples of how to, and not to, use sources effectively to write a good paper

Other library guides that give help for each of these steps: