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Getting Started with Research: Home

A basic overview of how to get started on your research project.


Getting started on a research project can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. This guide has been put together to help point you on the right track to research success by outlining the early steps of the research process, and directing you to some of the resources available in the library. 

Credo Reference

Credo Reference search is a powerful tool for topic-based searching and generating keywords.


Guides by Subject

Specialized guides for research based on subject. 

Instruction & Digital Initiatives Librarian

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Jason Riggin
Earl S. Richardson Library
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The Academic OneSearch can be found on our library's home page, and is frequently the starting point for many patrons conducting their research. When you perform a keyword search in the OneSearch, you are searching through a vast collection of many databases and resources, all at once. While this can be a powerful tool, the wide breadth of searching it provides also means that it can lead to many false positives: results that are not necessarily relevant to your research. As you progress in your research process, consider searching specific databases that specialize in topics related to your research question, in order to produce more narrow search results.

Types of Resources

Databases are critical sources of information in the digital world. They function as large digital collections, often based on a specific field of research, that can be searched and accessed fully online. Some databases contain full texts of articles that you can access online, while others contain only abstracts of papers or a combination of both. If you find a citation for a helpful resource in a database but it does not provide access to the full text, consult with a librarian about the best ways of obtaining access. 


The Earl S. Richardson library subscribes to hundreds of these databases for the benefit of our patrons. Navigate to the link below to see the full list. You can sort by database Name or by Subject to ensure you are searching the database that best suits your needs. 

Scholarly journal articles are in depth dives into specific academic topics. They are typically peer reviewed and have a longer publishing cycle than many other materials. These sources are the bread and butter of academic writing. However because of their highly specific nature it is rare to find an article that covers your research question completely and exactly. When consulting journal articles, expect to need to compare many articles that work on similar topics in order to paint a complete picture or a topic. Search for scholarly journal articles on our library homepage's OneSearch, on Google Scholar, or in specific library databases.

If you need a resource that takes a deep dive into a specific topic, books may be what you are after. The time to publication for books is longer than that of Journal articles, as well as allowing for more length. On average, a book will give you a greater in depth examination of a topic, at the tradeoff of potentially being less cutting edge than article research. However this more comprehensive scope does not mean that you should only consult a singular source: a book may cover a topic in full, but it is only one perspective. Always compare and contrast several sources in order to fully comprehend your research question and the dialog that surrounds it. On topics that don't experience much change over time, such as History, books can be especially powerful resources.

The ERS Library hold thousands of books in its own stacks, but as a Morgan State affiliate, you are also able to request books from any university library within the University of Maryland System. If you still cannot find the title you are after, consider placing an Interlibrary Loan request to get books that are held in libraries all over the globe.

eBooks are much like traditional books in terms of scope and publication criteria, so in many cases you will want to use them for similar research needs. They are held in digital format by libraries, often with copyright license agreements that track the number of uses. For this reason, it is more difficult to obtain eBooks that are not held natively by your institution. Search MSU's eBook collection at the link below:

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