Skip to main content

Libraries and Archives Orientation

Search our Catalog

The Libraries provide services, such as research help from a Subject Librarian (see "Research Help" box below), and contain many different types of materials: books, magazines, newspapers, videos, images, both in print and online. We make available 24/7 resources like Research Guides, video tutorials and subscription databases which contain resources not found on the open web.

Start your search for library materials in our online catalog, BobCat. The online catalog is the #1 best way to see what we have in our collections because what you're looking for may be:

  • Online (e.g., e-books, databases)
  • Onsite (in various locations)
  • Offsite (at our offsite storage facility in Westchester)
  • Checked out by other users
  • Not owned by us and accessible through E-ZBorrow(?) or other means.

Research Help

Start Your Research Paper

STEP 1: Begin developing your research question.

  • Your first task is to identify something of interest to you that you can research. Chapter 3 of The Craft of Research can help you go from a topic to a research question. Speak to your instructor and a librarian if you need help.
  • Try this exercise: Creating a Research Question.

STEP 2: Determine what information is needed and where to find it. (Check out the 'Select the Best Information Source' box below)

  • Where will you find information about your topic? Books? Images? Videos? Newspaper articles? Statistical databases?
  • Is the information you need published and available through library materials? Some information can only be accessed directly from the original source. For example, blueprints can often only be obtained directly from the architect.
  • Use a subject-specific Research Guide for resource recommendations.

STEP 3: Brainstorm or do preliminary research to identify keywords that can be used to locate research material.

Create a mind map using or (or pen and paper) or use the search terms worksheet to help brainstorm keywords and concepts.

  • Search encyclopedias to find verifiable background information and bibliographies suggesting further sources. As a free encyclopedia that is edited by the public, Wikipedia cannot be completely relied on for accurate information and should never be cited in academic research. However, we can use it for basic background information and some entries have bibliographies with links to scholarly material that can be cited for your paper.
  • Search for books, articles, DVDs and more in the online catalog. Broad terms work best. If one keyword does not produce results, try another!
  • Search our databases. General research databases such as ProQuest Central and Academic Search Complete contain current and historical articles on almost any topic. Search an e-book database like Ebook Central and discover what literature exists on your topic.
  • Search Google Books or Google Scholar. Google Scholar provides access to scholarly articles and conference papers, many of them available online as PDF files. If you open Google Scholar when logged into the online catalog or MyNewSchool, you'll also have access to journal articles that are part of for-pay databases (such as JSTOR). Do not pay to get the full text of any article. If you can't find the full text, Ask Us for help.

Select the Best Information Source

Use the below table to determine which sources are best for finding the type of information you need for your research project.

Source Best For Intended Audience Watch For/Consider
  • Daily local, national, and international news, events, and editorial coverage
  • Statistics and photojournalism
  • Record of events and quotes from experts, officials, and witnesses
  • General audience
  • Authors usually not experts
  • If a story is breaking, corrections to initial report likely
  • Editorial bias of a publication

Popular Magazines

  • Current information
  • Short, easy to understand articles (including analysis, interviews, opinions, etc.)
  • Photographs and illustrations
  • General audience, or those with a specific, recreational interest (e.g. sports, fashion, science, etc.)
  • Authors usually not experts
  • Sources not always cited
  • Editorial bias of a publication


  • Current information
  • Specialized articles related to a particular discipline or profession (including context and analysis)
  • Professional organizations or professionals/scholars with similar interests
  • Articles vary between short and easy to lengthy and highly specific
  • Sources not always cited
  • Has characteristics in common with both popular magazines and scholarly journals


  • Recent research on a topic
  • Focused, peer-reviewed articles written by experts
  • Data, statistics, charts, and graphs
  • Bibliographies of other sources
  • Scholars, researchers, professionals, and university students in particular field
  • Terminology and/or data may be difficult for novices to understand


  • Comprehensive overview of topic
  • Background and historical context
  • Bibliographies of other sources
  • Varies (general audience through scholars)
  • Dated information
  • Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc.)


  • News
  • Government information
  • Company information
  • Alternate points of view
  • General audience
  • Credibility and accuracy cannot always be assured
  • Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc.)
  • Sources not always cited

(By the Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for use or adaptation of materials.)