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First Year Guide: Research Starting Points

A guide for first years, designed to help them learn about the library and conducting research

Keep in mind:

Research as Inquiry
is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

Searching as Strategic Exploration
Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

Information Has Value
Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.

Ask Us

Alexandra (Alex) Wohnsen
Research Librarian for
Teaching & Learning Initiatives
Make an appointment for research help

Getting Started

Have a plan when conducting research:

Consult reference sources for context.

  • Find reference sources with facts and summaries to improve your initial searches
  • Use bibliographies from encyclopedia articles to identify key books, articles, and authors related to your topic

Find the starting point:

  • Library Catalog - Searches books, videos, music, and other resources at Hamilton. All Searches 
  • Academic Search Premier - Indexes journals across disciplines.   General Searches 
  • Subject Guides - See We Suggest sections for discipline-specific databases.   Advanced Searches 
  • How Do I Find... - News sources, images, statistics, primary sources, and more.   Targeted Searches 

Keep searches simple.

  • Start with a keyword search
  • Enter no more than two or three words connected by the word AND
  • Focus your search by using subject headings

Refine your search.

  • Repeat your search after reading some of the information gathered in the previous step
  • Mine the footnotes of books and articles on your topic for additional sources

Get help.

General Databases

Research Starting Points Quiz

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