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Library Research Basics: Gather Materials

This guide will help you to use the library's resources for your research. Learn to find books and articles, evaluate resources, use specific databases, choose a topic, etc. Access documentation and video tutorials to help with the research process

Begin Gathering Materials

Now that you've created a search statement, it's time to start searching.  A good research paper will derive information from a variety of authoratative resources (more about authorative sources in the evaluation stage). 

Books - Consult books to learn background and historical information for your topic.  Often there may be a chapter that is specific to your topic.

Articles - Articles in scholarly journals, trade journals, and newspapers are more tightly focused on a particular aspect of a topic.  Scholarly articles are the most up-to-date sources for original research and lend authority to your paper.  

If you need more help, schedule a one-on-one research consultation with your librarian.

Go to the Finding More  and Get Full Text pages to learn how to find more information using what you already have and how to get the full text from a citation or citation and abstract.

Other Resources

When to Use a Book or an Article - YouTube video from the libraries at the University of South Florida

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article - An interactive example of a scholarly article and its parts, presented by North Carolina State University Libraries.

Find Books


Search the library's WorldCat catalog to find books in Lavery Library and at libraries across the country.  Using Worldcat allows you to easily order items not available in Lavery Library through our ILL service.


Find Articles

Database A-Z List

Lavery Library subscribes to over 150 databases, offering a wide variety of multidisciplinary and subject specific databases, providing research resources on a multitude of topics.  Until you become familiar with the appropriate databases to use for your major/discipline, you may want to consult with your professor or librarian


Simple Search

The Simple Search on the library homepage will search all the books that the library owns, and a majority of articles available through the library's databases (full text or just the citations). It's still a good idea to explore individual databases related to your topic.  Ask a librarian, if you are not sure.

Types of Sources

The following are common types of sources used in writing research papers:

Primary - Primary sources are the original materials, where the author has been directly involved in the research or event.  It remains in its original form, uninterpreted by others.  Examples would be diaries, correnspondences, letters, emails, speaches, empirical research, etc.  

Secondary - Secondary sources are items written after the fact.  The perspective is different as the author is interpreting what has already happened.  Common secondary sources would be newspaper articles, some journal articles, commentaries, criticisms, reviews of the literature, etc.  

Tertiary - Tertiary sources are compilations of primary and secondary sources, comprised mainly of facts and references to other sources.  Common tertiary sources would be handbooks, almanacs, guidebooks, indexes, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. 

Scholarly - Scholarly sources,also referred to as academic, refereed, or peer-reviewed, are those written by experts, traditionally professors and scientists. Learn more about scholarly resources in the Evaluate section

Empirical - Empirical sources are those that come from original research and would also be considered primary sources.  You can easily recognize an empirical research paper as it usually contains the following sections within the body of the article:


  • Abstract - a brief summary of the research
  • Literature Review - a discussion of prior research on the topic
  • Methods - describes how the research was conducted
  • Results - the findings of the research
  • Discussion - an analysis of the findings
  • Conclusions - what the author concludes from the research
  • References - a list of consulted research for the study