Skip to Main Content

CNS 5500 Research and Program Evaluation

Academic Research

Research is not easy.

To conduct good research takes time and thought. Most good academic research requires you to do multiple searches.

The key aspect of conducting research is know what you are searching for. Before starting a search, look at your research assignment and determine due dates, if there is an assigned topic, and what kind of resources are allowable. You may also want to research some aspect of the topic that relates to you. Examine your own past experiences. Is there anything in your life that relates to the topic? Is there anything interesting in the news that relates. Choose a topic that you are interested in. If you have a relationship, an investment, in a topic, the research and writing will seem to be easier.

Then think about your topic, You may want to talk to friends and classmates about your ideas. You may even want to ask the instructor about your topic. Nothing is worse than researching and composing a research project only to be told by an instructor that your topic is not acceptable.

If you are researching a topic you know little or nothing about, you need to learn more about the topic. Look in your textbook, or look in an encyclopedia or reference book to gain a background knowledge  Most college instructors will not allow you to quote from encyclopedias, but encyclopedia will contain helpful background information to assist your search and understanding of your topic. Keyword and concepts will be found in encyclopedia entries..

Develop a list of keywords that describe your topic. Are there related key words or terms? List them as well. The electronic resources search differently than websites. Web searching allows you to type out your topic as a sentence or a question in the search box and you will get results.  Searching in academic resources cannot be done using sentence. You must break your topic down into it most basics key words. If your topic was “What is the relationship between drinking and remaining in college” some of your keywords might be: drinking and college and retention. If you type this thesis/research question into a library catalog or an electronic database you will not get any results. Break your thesis/question down into its most basic key words and concepts.

To aid your search you would develop a list of terms that relates to each of those terms. These related keywords will assist you in your database searching as well as developing a vocabulary for the research presentation.




alcohol or beer

college student

grades or GPA

binge drinking


academic success


fraternity or sorority


Academic research requires that you use more than just web sites. College instructors will require you to use books, book chapters, magazine articles and peer reviewed journal articles. Some instructors will limit the number of free web sources you may use. The academic resources will not be freely available through a web search. If you find these items doing a web search you will be asked to pay to access them.

The Library’s web page provides the access point for these academic sources. BraveCat, the Library’s catalog, provides list of books and other resources available in the Library. BraveCat also provides access to most of the e-books the library has access to. The tab Find Books will provided information about locating these resources.

The cornerstone of most academic research is peer reviewed (scholarly) journal articles.  The databases in the Electronic Resources are listed by title and by subject. The Find Articles tab will give you more information on this process.