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Library offers tips for writing stronger research papers

KCC Library Contributed Column

By Julie Petersen
On September 27, 2018

Is it time to get started on that research paper? Past time? The Kirkwood Library has some ideas and information to help with the research process.   
To start, you need to choose a topic. This can be the most difficult part if you haven’t been given a topic and have to select your own.  Think about what interests you, look at websites or library databases like Opposing Viewpoints for current social issues, or see what’s in the news. If you’re still stumped for a topic, try an internet search for “research or term paper topics” to see lists of ideas.   
Once you’ve chosen a topic, look at many different sources and types of sources. A good starting place is WorldCat – the library’s online catalog in the middle of the library homepage. WorldCat provides access to books, ebooks, articles, and films in the Kirkwood library and in libraries around the world. We can borrow most types of items.
The next good place to go is the All Kirkwood Databases link on the library homepage.  You will see a list of 80 databases. The top two are Academic OneFile and Academic Search Elite. Both are great sources for a wide variety of academic research topics.
If you scroll down that list, you’ll see many other databases on different topic areas and content types.
A small sample includes: Business Source Elite for business, management and marketing articles; Health Source for medical or health questions; Global Road Warrior for information on different countries; Opposing Viewpoints or CQ Researcher for current hot topics; and PsycArticles for psychology related research. This just scratches the surface of what’s available, so if you need help figuring out where to start, talk to a librarian.
You will also want to make sure you’re using reliable information.  This means you need to be able to evaluate the sources you’re using for things like currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. Ask a librarian if you are unsure.  
For more information on these ideas or any other part of the research process, check out the Research Help guide on the library website at and clicking the Explore our Help Guide button.
Scroll down the list to Research Help for more information on topic help, information sources, searching for information, evaluating information, organizing research, and citing sources.  
And as always, be sure to stop in and talk to a librarian if you need help with any step in the research process.

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