Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

English Composition: Using Information to Complete Your Work

A quick overview of the research process for students who are new to using the library.

Tips on Reading

Once you start finding information you'll using in your assignment, that means you'll need to start reading. And once you start reading, you might notice that a lot of these sources are weird. The truth is that scholarly articles can be difficult to read and understand, especially if you're new to this kind of research. Frankly, even your professors come across articles that don't make much sense. Luckily, there are a few tricks to help you with reading these sources and getting the most out of them.

Most scholarly articles will have an abstract. This is a short summary of the article that tells you all of the author's main points, and often gives away the ending. Reading the abstract will let you know if an article is helpful for you as you complete your assignment, and can also give you pretty good idea of the author's main argument.

You can also often identify the author's argument at the beginning of the last section in the article, which is often labeled discussion or conclusion.

If don't understand the words or concepts they're using, that's ok! The intended audience of these articles is typically advanced researchers, not people who are just starting college. For that reason, you should be ready to run a basic web search to look up what these words and mean.

Why We Cite

Citation is an important part of the research and writing process. By telling the reader where you located information, you are giving credit to the researchers who came before you. Citations also provide credibility to your argument and show the work that you put into your paper. Finally, they show your reader where to go to learn more about the topic.

There are several different citation styles you'll probably use in your classes. The good news is that for each result you find in Start My Research, there is a citation provided! Just put your mouse of the title of a result (don't click it though) and a box will open on the right with options to Cite that source. This is also a chance to review the abstract, as well as link to the full article.

If you're not sure if you should include a citation, or have a question about how to format it correctly ask your instructor, a writing tutor, or a librarian. We're happy to help!

More Help From Start My Research