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Library Research Basics: Fill Gaps

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 Writing

Writing a research paper requires a lot of reading.  At some point, it's time to begin the writing process.

The First Draft:

  • Use your outline to help stay on track. Cover all the subtopics and create smooth transitions between sections.
  • Build your argument and supply the supporting evidence for each part of the arguments.
  • You will find that some of your arguments either lack supporting evidence or contain evidence that do not appear strong enough.  You may need to  find more research to support your claim. 
  • Reread the paper several times for clarity, cohesion, and flow.  Ask a peer to proofread the paper, as we often read what we think we wrote rather than what is actually on the paper.  Visit the Writing Center for help! 
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!

Other Resources

Preparing to Write and Drafting the Paper suggestions from the University of Chicago writing program.

First Draft Pitfalls of a College Paper video tips from a journalist's point of view

Do More Research

Once you have your first draft, you may find that there are holes in your research.  To fill in the gaps, return to Gathering Materials, and revisit the Finding More page.  Here is a brief list of strategies for finding more books and articles for your research:

  • Use Worldcat to find books on your topic
  • Use the Database A-Z list to search appropriate databases for your topic
  • Search for more books and articles written by authors you have already found
  • Mine all the reference lists from the material you already have
  • Create a list of subject headings linked to the material you already have.  Try a new database search using those subject terms.

Make an appointment for a one-on-one visit with your librarianYour librarian can help you find more resources and teach you new research skills. 

Massachusetts Magazine

Massachusetts Magazine

The Massachusetts Magazine, or, Monthly Museum of Knowledge and Rational Entertainment, 1789–96 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Synthesize the Information

Synthesize what you have read into a cohesive whole that emphasizes your perspective, and supports your thesis.  You've done the research, now blend together what you've learned and clearly express your own opinion on the topic.  The research you have done will simply support what you have to say. 

Synthesis =

A blend of the research (envision a smoothie, rather than a fruit platter)

A discussion of the research in relation to your thesis statement

An demonstration of how all the research works together

An identification of your understanding of the research

Your conclusions based on what you've learned

Synthesis is not =

A restatement of the research you have read

A disjointed listing, paragraph by paragraph, of the research you have read

A retelling of other researchers conclusions without insight into your own