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Research Consultations

Finding Research Articles the Easy Way

The easiest way to search for research articles is to use Google Scholar.

  • If you're on campus, Google Scholar will automatically connect you to all of the University of Rochester's resources.
  • If you're off campus, follow the instructions below. 

How to Pick a Research Topic

You are ready to begin researching a topic when you can answer the following questions: 

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Who cares about this problem and why?
  • What have others already done to solve this problem? Where are the gaps in that work?
  • What is your proposed solution to the problem?
  • What's new about your approach?
  • How can you demonstrate it is a good solution?

Adapted from How to Choose a Research Topic

How to Read A Research Article

Reading a research article is different from reading any other type of source. There are specific strategies you can use to save time and gain a deeper understanding of what you are researching.

Strategy 1: Preview 

  • Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion; look for relevant keywords or phrases
    • If you like what you saw, read the whole article
    • If you don't find what you're looking for, stop reading and move on to the next article

Strategy 2: Notes

  • Take notes in the margins; don't use a highlighter
    • Jot down words, ideas, phrases that occur to you while you read
    • Ask questions: "Why am I being asked to read this?" "What is the author's main argument?" "Why do they use these examples/evidence to support their claims"
    • Ask these questions in class, or use them as jumping-off points for your papers

Strategy 3: Analyze

  • In point form, outline the author's argument; pay attention to how they make connections between ideas
  • Then, in a few sentences, describe: 
    • What is the author asserting
    • What reasons/evidence do they provide to convince you
    • Any points where the reasoning breaks down: things that do not make sense, conclusions that are drawn prematurely, etc.

More Ways to Find Research Articles

You can also find articles using a library database.

A library database is an organized collection of articles that lets you search search for a particular topic, article, or book in a variety of ways (e.g., keyword, subject, author, title).

Materials and information available in a library database may never appear in a Google Scholar search, or in a Google search. If Google isn't giving you what you need, try one of the databases below: 

Breaking down a research topic

Database Tips


Did you get too many results?  If so, try some of these ideas to narrow down your results: 

  • Narrow by dates (only newer, older, or a specific range of dates) 

  • Narrow by type of source (peer-reviewed journals, magazines, etc. based on the assignment’s guidelines) 

  • Add another of the search terms you listed above, connecting the two with the “AND” provided in the database’s Advanced Search 

  • Using the database’s Advanced Search option, change “AND” to “NOT” to exclude terms you don’t want (ex. “Pride and Prejudice” NOT film) 

  • Put any multi-word phrases into “quotation marks” to prevent other words from coming between them 

  • Try searching within a specific publication  

  • Try using a specialized limiter for the database(s) you’re searching (for example, PsycINFO offers a Methodology limiter; Education Source has one for Lesson Plans; and Business Source Complete lets you search for Company Reports, Case Studies, or Product Reviews) 


Did you get too few results?  If so, try some of these ideas to expand your results: 

  • Using the database’s Advanced Search, enter 2 search terms that are synonyms, connecting them with the word “or” (ex. film OR movie). Some databases even include a thesaurus. 

  • Enter your main topic in a Subject Search. Look at the subdivisions or subjects given to you to get new ideas for better search terms (find out what the database is calling it) 

  • If you are in an EBSCO owned database, click where it says “Choose Database” at the top and add more databases to your search 

  • If you are in a ProQuest owned database, click where it says “Change databases” at the top and add another database to your search 

  • Find an author or authors who support your thesis and search for their other works 

  • If you find an article that does fit your topic:

    • search for full text of some of the articles it cites 

    • search Google Scholar for newer articles that cite it

  • Find more background information on your topic and brainstorm some new search terms 

  • Type in the base of your search term and truncate with an asterisk* (for example, searching for therap* will bring results for therapy, therapist, and therapeutic)