Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started

Where should you start your research? How do you organize your notes and keep track of your relevant information? Don’t worry if it’s all a bit overwhelming…the library is a good place to begin and we’ve gathered a few tools to help you through the process.

For a complete guide to research and writing check out the following sites. These comprehensive resources will walk you through the entire writing process.

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab

Choose Your Topic

If you are having trouble deciding on a topic, this guide may help you. 

Topic Ideas

  • Library books are an excellent source of information. Start by searching your library’s catalogue for the following book series:  At Issue, Current Controversies, Opposing Viewpoints, Compact Research, and Contemporary Issues for topic ideas.  Type the name of the book series in the search box and click the “series” button to see which books are available in your library.
  • Online encyclopedias are another great source for preliminary information. Try the Encyclopedia Brittanica (if you search from home you will need a password, visit your library for a password list) or the Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • Online databases offer the researcher a great starting point.  Start withCanada in Context, Science in Context, Health and Wellness or Greenr (an environmental database). These databases provide a list of current issues – click the “view all” button next to “social issues” or browse from the menu at the top of the page. If you search these databases at home you will need the password – visit your library for the password list.
  • Newspapers can be a starting point if you are looking for up to date information on current topics, but remember newspapers often contain editorial articles and may not be free from bias. Most of the library databases have newspaper articles, as well check out the Canadian newspaper database CPIQ for Canadian content.
  • Internet sources may offer topics.  Have a look at Hot topics, St. Ambrose University Library, Pros and Cons of Controversial Topics, and the New York Times Topics guide.
  • Refine your topic by brainstorming.  Use a paper mindmap or try an online mindmapping tool such as Bubble.usExploratree, Gliffy, or Mindmeister.  Remember to save all your rough notes, you will need them!

Download a graphic organizer, created by NoodleTools.

Begin your research


Annotated Bibliography Guides

You may be asked to prepare an annotated bibliography as part of your research process. An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you have consulted while researching along with a summary or evaluation of each source.  For a more detailed description of an annotated bibliography along with examples consult the links below.

University of Toronto Writing Services
Perdue Owl Online Writing Lab

For additional help with plagiarism, check out these guides: