This guide is designed to help you find great research for your report, term paper or thesis. It's easy to find basic info using Google, but to find specific and high-quality technical information you need to use dedicated research tools and databases!
Need help? I am available to help by email, in an online consult appointment, or an in-person appointment (on campus 2-3 days a week). See my page on accessing research from home using university credentials.
The process you follow when researching and writing a paper usually has at least the following steps:
Writing a research assignment or report is an iterative process - you don't just proceed linearly from one step to the next. It is normal to go back and refine your topic while you are researching, or to search some more while you are writing!
No matter how skilled you are at searching, you'll need to use multiple tools, and try various search keywords, to do a good job on a research assignment. But you can save time by thinking of a plan first. Here are a few suggestions:
a. Define specific objectives: what exactly are you looking for? are you interested in the subject in general or in a specific aspect? (e.g. are you interested in concrete durability in general, or specifically concrete durability in cold climates? Perhaps you are looking for something more specific - effect of fly ash on freeze-thaw durability of concrete).
b. Decide which time period should be covered by your search: the current year? the last five years? and how soon you need this information. If you are looking for the most recent research, you might want to look for conference papers or pre-prints, which are published more quickly than traditional journal papers.
c. Figure out which types of sources are best to start with: If you are looking for general information on a topic, you might want to start your search using a source from the 'Background Info' tab such as an electronic book. If you are looking for research on a very specific question, or your professor has told you to use peer-reviewed articles, you can use a Research Article database. Or you may need to start with a professional document such as a standard or design code.