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Research Help

Welcome Students!

The Mary Livermore Library offers many services and resources to assist the students of UNCP. We hope you use this guide to familiarize yourself with the research process and how the library can support you as you are looking for information without our resources. This guide will: 

  • Help you get started researching and point you to library resources and how to use them
  • Offer information about the research process
  • Explain information literacy
  • Introduce the library's general education and graduate research courses. 

The faculty and staff of the Livermore library look forward to working with all of you.


Academic Research

Basic Research Steps

Research is not easy.

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

Getting Ready

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.

Choosing a Topic

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


Search for Sources

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. Primo, the Library’s catalog, provides list of books and other resources available in the Library. The cornerstone of most academic research is peer reviewed (scholarly) journal articles. The databases in the A-Z Database list are listed by title and can be filtered by subject, type, and vender.

Organizing your Research 

Make sure you have a plan for keeping track of what you find. Keep citations in a word document, save PDFs in your OneDrive or Google Drive, or use a citation management software like RefWorks

Citing your Sources 

When you have completed your research, don't forget to properly cite any sources that you use in your paper, project or assignment. Check with you professor and use the library's Citation Guides if you need more assistance.