Skip to main content

WRTG 1310: Introduction to Academic Writing


Welcome to the library research guide for WRTG 1310: Introduction to Academic Writing.  This guide is designed to help you learn how to use the library's databases to find research.

Use the tabs at the left to navigate this guide.

Starting Your Research

Research can often be a messy and cyclical process. Sometimes you do the perfect search on the first try, and other times you have to repeat your searches multiple times with different combinations of keywords. Below are the basic steps of the research process

  1. Decide what information you need
    • What points are you going to make? Creating an outline may help.
  2. Determine what resources you can use
    • Does your assignment specify a certain type of resource (article, book, newspaper, etc.)?
  3. Identify the best database(s) for your research
    • Can you find what you need in OneSearch, or do you need a more specialized database?
  4. Search for the information
    • Use the library databases to find reliable information.
  5. Evaluate the information
    • Make sure your sources are relevant and appropriate for your topic and assignment
  6. Write your paper or research project
    • Use the sources you've found to support your statement in your paper or research project.

Searching in the databases isn't like searching in Google. Rather than whole sentences, you need to refine your topic into a few key terms and short phrases, known as keywords. You may want to start by writing out your topic and underlining the main concepts:

Topic: What happens to the brain when you're in love?

Next you may want to brainstorm synonyms and related terms in case your first search doesn't produce the correct results:


Brain Love
Related Terms



Once you have all of your keywords, you'll need to combine them in the database to perform a search. If your search doesn't work well with one combination, try another!


When you're ready to begin reading your articles, use these questions to help you determine the value of a source:

Does this help me answer my research question?
How does this source address all or part of your research topic?

Do you understand the source?
Does this source use unfamiliar terminology or jargon? Do you need any other background information in order to understand it?

Does this source follow your assignment instructions?
Make sure you know what type of source you are looking at. Newspapers and magazines are not scholarly sources; journal articles and book chapters are.

How are you going to use this source?
Does this source support your thesis, or does it provide counter-evidence that you need to address? Does it provide background information on your topic, or is it important, foundational research that your topic is based on? Will this source lead to additional information?