George Mason University

Library Research Basics

Depending on your topic, you may need to rearrange or recycle through these research steps.

1. Identify and develop your topic

  • State your topic as a question
    Example: what measures can be taken by educators to prevent violence in elementary schools?
  • Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question
    Example: violence, grade or elementary school, prevention
  • Narrow or broaden your topic as needed
2. Find background information 3. Use catalogs to find books & media

Use a variety of sources: periodicals, audio-visual materials, government documents, maps, Special Collections & Archives, etc

4. Use databases and indexes to find periodical articles 5. Use Internet sources wisely

6. Evaluate what you find

7. Cite your sources
Need help? Just ask! Librarians or reference desk staff can assist you.
This guide adapted from: