Frequently Asked Questions
I don't have a topic. What should I do?
Choose something you're interested in learning more about! Remember, you'll be spending a lot of time researching and writing about it. Look through your textbook and class notes to see what sparks your interest. You could also explore the peer-reviewed journals in the Find Sources tab on this site for topic ideas.
Where should I start?
Think about your topic. How would you describe it to someone who knows nothing about it? What keywords would you use? Jot these words down. Do these words have any synonyms? For example, teenager and adolescent. Once you’ve spent some time thinking about your topic, choose one of the recommended databases from the Find Sources tab, and start searching. Remember, research takes time, so start early.
I can't find an article on my topic.
Try adjusting your search criteria. Generally speaking, the more specific your topic, the fewer articles you’ll find. For example, if you use the following search criteria (peer-reviewed articles about child poverty in Schenectady written in the year 2016 or later) you’ll find fewer articles than if you use this search criteria (peer-reviewed articles about child poverty in urban areas written in 2015 or later).
I still need help. What should I do?
Consult with a librarian online or in-person, whichever works best for you. Librarians are research specialists; we can help you find the information you need.
- Use Ask Us 24/7 for online help from a college librarian 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Ask at the front desk for in-person help from a librarian whenever the library is open