Search Section
  • Research Process 





    Be specific. Choose one aspect of a broad topic.

    The topic global warming is too broad for a five page report.  

    Develop a topic that is more focused and specific, such as:
    What is the relationship between global warming and environmental pollution?


    Identify the key concepts within your topic.

            Key concepts: global warming, pollution

    Think of related concepts or alternate words you could use to discuss your topic:


    Defining Your Topic
    global warming pollution
    Related Concepts Related Concepts
    climate change environmental pollution
    environment greenhouse gases



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    Use these concepts to develop effective keyword searching skills.


    Use AND to connect two different concepts:


            SEARCH 1: global warming AND pollution


    AND finds items related to both search terms.


    Use your related concepts to help build a range of search strategies.

    If a search using global warming AND pollution finds few or no results, try using: 

            SEARCH 2: climate change AND pollution

    If you want more general results, try using more basic keywords: 

            SEARCH 3: environment AND pollution

    To broaden your search, use OR to look for similar terms:


            SEARCH 4: global warming OR climate change
    finds results that contain either term.


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    Selecting appropriate resources for your topic is an important part of the research process.


    Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are an excellent place to start your research. They are generally helpful for finding:  

    • definitions
    • overviews
    • history
    • background information
    • basic information and facts
    • statistics


    Locate Definitions and Overviews using the Library Databases.



    Books and DVDs are generally helpful for finding:  

    • focused coverage of a topic
    • in-depth information
    • specific topics and related topics
    • historical discussions

    Locate Books, Videos, and DVDs using the Library Catalogue!


    Check out our "How to Find a Book" tutorial or use our Search Tips for details on how to search the Library Catalogue by: Keyword, Author, and Title.


    Articles are generally helpful for finding:
    • highly specific information on a topic
    • new research in the field
    • information on current events (magazines, newspapers)
    • scholarly or academic articles (journals)


    To locate articles, you will need to search within a database.

    • Identify a library database that covers your essay topic or your general subject area.
    • Search the database using words you might expect to find in the title or subject of the article.
    • When using databases, you can do more complex searches. Remember, if you receive too many results, try to find ways to be more specific about your topic. If you don’t receive enough results, try being more broad.
    • For immediate access to complete articles, always limit your searches to FULL TEXT.
    • For advanced searching (particularly Health Sciences research), you may want to access citations, linked full text, and print journals. For access to ALL of these resources, DO NOT LIMIT your searches to FULL TEXT.


    If you would like to search specific journal titles, check out our Journals by Title.

    Check out our step by step tutorial on How to Find an Article here! 



    Websites are sometimes helpful for finding: 

    Locate recommended websites by subject using our Research Guides.

    Check out our guide on Evaluating Websites.

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    Evaluating your resources is an essential part of the research process. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether a source is suitable for your essay or assignment:

    • Is the author an expert? What are their credentials?
    • Is the source biased? Is it presenting only one point of view?
    • Are facts being presented, or opinions?
    • Is the information accurate?
    • Do other sources verify the information?
    • Has any important information been excluded?
    • Who is the intended audience: academics, professionals, students, or the general public?


    Please check our Evaluating Websites guide for criteria specific to evaluating websites.



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    The Library Learning Commons has many books that can assist you in writing your essay or assignment.


    To find these materials, go to the Library Catalogue and search for keywords such as: 

    • College writing
    • Writing skills
    • Essay writing
    • Critical thinking
    • Research skills

    For information on specific types of writing, such as Annotated Bibliographies or Literature Reviews, check out the University of Toronto's Guide to Writing.


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    Citing your sources is an essential part of college research which allows you to acknowledge and use the works of others in your essays, research and assignments.

    Any information (including ideas!) that you did not create yourself must be credited using a citation method - the most popular are APA and MLA.

    Remember to ask your instructor which citation method they would like you to use!

    If you have any questions please contact the Library.



    (Content from the following sections adapted with permission from Langara College Library: Defining Your Topic, Searching Skills, Selecting & Locating Resources) 


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