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Fullerton College Library

Research 101

Getting Started With Research @ FC Library

Hot to use this guide

Welcome to Research 101

Greetings, student researchers! This guide has been developed to give you an overview of the research process and to provide guidance as you work on your research assignment. If you need ideas on what to explore for your next research paper, jump to the Topic Ideas section. If you already have a research topic and aren't sure where to find the information you need, hop on over to the Accessing Library Sources or Databases vs. Google sections. Tips are given in bite-sized chunks, so feel free to grab what you need and go. 

If you have questions or need additional research assistance at any point, click the "Chat with us" button on the left.

The Research Assignment

Research Paper Assignment

Start with the parameters of your assignment, paying attention to:

Source types - Are you required to use scholarly or peer-reviewed sources? What types of source are you prohibited from using? Knowing these parameters will help you narrow your search results to the source types you need for the assignment.

Number of sources - How many sources are you required to cite in your paper? You won't likely find all selected sources useful, so consider selecting double that number.

Number of pages - How long does your paper need to be? If you aren't required to cite a certain number of sources, aim for around one source per page. If your paper needs to be 5-7 pages, plan on citing 5-7 sources.

Required citation format - For your course,  what format should your papers follow? Sources you select from most FC Library databases will provide the source citations, but they are not consistently accurate. Copy the citation in the required format, then make necessary corrections using the MLA Works Cited or APA References Guide (see left column).


A couple tips before you get started:

One: Keep a working bibliography of the sources you may use for the paper. When you are ready to write your paper, your working bibliography will make the process of citing your sources and putting together your Works Cited page much easier. There are a couple ways you can organize your working bibliography:

  • Keep track of source citations along with quotations and summaries on note cards. FC Library has a subscription to NoodleTools, which allows you to create note cards that are linked to their source citations. When you ready, you can also take your works cited and download the citations in Word or Google Docs. 
  • Keep track of source citations along with their annotations (e.g., summaries, usefulness, key quotes) in a Word or Google document. You can group citations into categories to reveal gaps in your research (i.e., information still needed) and when you have gathered enough to sufficiently support your claims. 

Two: When you discover a potentially useful source for your paper, make sure you have a way to get back to the source, i.e., download or copy link back to the article. If you locate an article using OneSearch, copy the permalink in the tools column instead of the URL in the browser, which will stop working after it times out.