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Research can take more time than you think it will. We have some time management strategies to use when writing research papers.

Where can I find a topic to write about?

Think about possible research topic as you read your textbooks. When listening to lectures in class, jot down topics that interest you. Still can’t think of a topic? Subject specific reference resources (see below) are a good place to go to explore topics. These resources are also very useful in narrowing or focusing a topic that is too broad or too big to tackle in one paper.

Where can I find background information on my topic?

Online reference resources are a good place to begin your research and offer you -- an overview of a topic; a broader perspective; context and historical development; or statistical information, images, and maps related to the topic. Take a look at our Electronic Reference Sources blog post for links to great resources you can access from home.

Where can I find additional information about this topic?

Save time immediately by beginning your research with one of the library’s subject oriented research guides. These are located under “FIND” on the library home page.

Information on these pages is usually organized by:

• Books
• Articles
• Encyclopedias
• Gateways to other resources, e.g. key websites for the discipline

TIP: Remember, you may not find everything you want to use in your research in our collection. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to request books from other libraries via CSU+ (CSU libraries) or Circuit (SDSU, CSU San Marcos, UCSD, USD, San Diego City Library, San Diego County Library.  Journal articles not available full text at SDSU can be ordered using our free Interlibrary Loan service. Again, this takes time, especially during this pandemic, so begin your research early.

Looking for more current information?

OneSearch is a good option if you need just need a few articles on a topic. If you are performing a more comprehensive and focused search, use the individual article databases suggested by subject specialists. There are general tips and tricks to searching library databases more efficiently and effectively. Take a look at: Don’t let database searching stress you out, and What does peer review mean?

What if I need special types of resources to write my paper?

Sometimes your instructor will require you use specific types of resources to write your paper. These can be a little more difficult and time consuming to search.  In addition to research guides by subject or discipline, we also provide on our Research Guides page assistance in locating materials by type, including:

primary sources
news and newspapers
government publications
health statistics and data

What about citing resources and help with writing?

Once you have gathered information and started the actual writing of your paper, you might need to refer to resources related to citing information or for tips on editing and proofreading and information on how to avoid plagiarizing the work of others. Check out How to cite your sources.

Getting bogged down? 

Don’t wait, get help!  Take advantage of the SDSU reference librarians and our subject expertise and in-depth knowledge of research tools and tricks. We are available to help in one format or another 24/7.

Questions? eref@sdsu.edu