Tutorials

ENGL 1102 Harper

Valdosta State University's Odum Library Homepage

  • Anywhere Access
    • Log in to Anywhere Access to use library resources while off-campus.
  • Live Chat
    • The Live Chat page shows ways to contact a Reference Librarian.  Contact methods include online chat, text message, email, phone, or visiting us in person during normal reference desk hours.
  • Schedule a research consultation with a librarian for in-depth help
    • With this online form, you may request an appointment with a reference librarian for assistance with your research. We request 48 hours' notice to allow time for scheduling.

Selecting a Topic

When you're selecting a research topic, Odum Library recommends that you select a topic meaningfully. Try to use some of the following criteria:

  • 1 - You're interested in the topic.
    • Doing informed research on something you're interested in will make your research time much more enjoyable! Don't give yourself a boring project. 

    2 - It's related to your profession.
    • Doing a research paper on something you're interested in within the job you want to do will help you get used to researching within your field. Think of it as practice for your 3000 and 4000 level courses.
    • If you haven't decided on a major or a career choice yet, just make sure you're interested in your topic. Who knows - maybe this will help you pick your major!
  • 3 - Your topic is something that can be measured, or your topic has something within it which can be measured.
    • Scholarly research topics are much easier when aspects of the topic can be measured through things like experiments, tests, or surveys. Avoid researching a question like "Is [this political measure] a good thing?" Researchers are trying to see if they can confirm that something affects something else significantly - whether those effects are truly "good" or "bad" is subjective and open to interpretation.
    • See if you can change that question to something you think may be a good thing: "Does [this political measure] increase [something you consider to be 'good']?"
    • Finding a measurable topic means that scholarly sources, such as our scholarly books and journals, will be much more relevant to your topic.
    • For example: "Are video games bad for you?" isn't a great research topic, but "Do video games make people more likely to commit violent crimes?" is a measurable topic. You could also have that as a section of a larger "Video Games" overview research paper.

  • 4 - It's something that has been around for at least a couple of years, or it's something that's based on something older.
    • Finding authoritative literature on an issue which only just happened this month will be a tough topic to research. Researchers need time to measure what they want to measure, after all.
    • If you have a very recent topic, and it's relatable to an older topic, that's a perfectly valid way to conduct your literature search.
    • For example: Scholarly sources on the recent Benghazi incident may not be that numerous, but if you look at overviews of the FBI and CIA, literature that explains communication issues within intelligence agencies, or related incidents in the past, you can find literature that pertains to what happened in Benghazi.

If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, feel free to explore the sites below, using them as tools to pick a topic. They're not library resources, but they can help you get started.

  • ProCon
    • ProCon is a site that lists some of the biggest debated topics in the US, along with a big overview of both sides' arguments on the issue.
  • Google News
    • Google News has a "Top Stories" aggregator which brings in the most talked-about current news on a list. While these news articles are reports on individual occurrences, they often have to do with a particular issue, and this may help you pick a currently popular topic.
  • Hot Topics for Research Papers and Speeches (Northwest Missouri State University Library)
    • This page breaks down some of the bigger political topics into smaller, more searchable, subtopics. Please disregard the links to sources on the page, as they're intended for NMSU students.

Resources for Developing a Search Statement

 

Print Reference Materials

Print Reference Sources
You will find print reference sources in both the main reference collection and the "reference alcove." Please ask the Reference Librarian on duty at the reference desk for assistance in finding materials. To search for print materials:

  • GIL-Find VSU Library Catalog
    • This is our newer catalog, and it's great for searching for keywords, just as you would in Google. Click "Advanced Search" to limit the search to our Reference Collection, and you'll mostly get helpful subject encyclopedias and dictionaries in your results.
  • Classic GIL VSU Library Catalog
    • Use Classic GIL to find things by subject. Click on "Exact Search" and then "Subject Heading" to search for a subject. If you find one you like, click on the "Titles" link (a number) to get the titles listed under that subject.

Online Reference Sources

 

Databases for Articles

Finding Databases for Scholarly Articles

  • Go to the library home page (www.valdosta.edu/academics/library/).
  • Click on the Articles tab, if it is not already selected.
  • Click the arrow for the drop menu located under Articles & Databases by Subject to reach subject pages for VSU majors.

Recommended Databases for Articles

  • GALILEO Discovery
    • The new GALILEO Discovery lets you search through many (but not all) databases. After you search, be sure to use the left sidebar to narrow your results to the type of source, peer review, and publication date.

Individual Databases
These databases often have better search options - click on Advanced Search when you first get to the database and scroll down to see all of your options.

NOTE: You will need to login through Anywhere Access if you are off-campus.

 

Help with getting articles full-text or in print

 

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Using Interlibrary Loan
Interlibrary Loan allows you to request articles, books, and other materials from other libraries. Click on "ILL-Odum Express" on our homepage or the link below to get to Interlibrary Loan. Digital article delivery takes 2-5 business days, while book delivery takes 5-10 business days.

 

Other Helpful Resources

MLA Style

Resources

Avoiding Plagiarism