This guide was created for students working on research paper assignments in the ENGL 099: Fundamentals of College Writing course at SUNY Cobleskill. The tabs at the top of this page will guide you through resources at Van Wagenen Library (both in print and online) that should help you find, evaluate, and cite sources for your paper.
Steps to research success!
1. Read your assignment carefully. Identify guidelines, required length, and the types of information sources allowed.
2. Pick an appropriate topic that meets the requirements identified in your assignment instructions. It should interest you, be broad enough that you can find enough information on the subject, and be focused enough that you are not overwhelmed with too much information.
3. Gather background information and refine your topic. Popular sources you find on the "open web" (e.g. through Google or Wikipedia) are most likely not sources you'd want to use in your paper, but they might provide basic information and introduce you to ideas or aspects of a subject that you hadn't considered. They might also offer suggestions of keywords to use in a more thorough search of scholarly materials. Try doing a simple search for articles and books using the "Search Everything" tab on the library's home page. The sources you find there might help you narrow your focus and better define the question you're most interested in researching and writing about. Choosing and refining your topic is an important part of the research process.
4. Gather sources - use the tabs along the top of this guide to help you structure your search and find a range of credible resources.
5. Correctly cite these sources in the citation format approved by your instructor and compile the information needed to create a bibliography, references, or works cited page. Check out the Citations tab for help.