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About this Research Guide

Do you need to update your research habits?

Many college students say they do research now the same way they did when they were in elementary school. In the working world, those people will be at a disadvantage. Employers say they need people who recognize when they need information, are able to locate and choose the best information, then use that information effectively and ethically (American Library Association).

Practice for your future by using this guide to learn some techniques, tools and sources provided by the library. Most of the articles in the databases listed on this guide are not freely available on the Internet, but are free to us at Dalton State through the library website.

Use the BEST information, not just the most convenient!

What's your assignment?

Read your entire assignment. When you begin your research, keep a copy of your assignment on hand. Keep in mind:

  • What kinds of materials do you need? Books? Articles? Scholarly? Websites? Last 5 years? Images? Primary sources?

  • What is the topic? Are there synonyms or broader or narrower terms to try?

  • Who is your audience?

  • Do you need to even research your topic for this assignment, or just to help you to understand?

  • How many sources do you need?

  • How will your research be presented?


Begin with a general topic, you may need to do some initial research before you focus on a thesis.

~ A research thesis statement is your main point; an idea or opinion that you want to prove or explain, or a question you want to answer. This statement may be revised as you learn more during your research and writing process.

~ The thesis statement helps you focus on what your research is about.

~ Your job as a researcher, is to find evidence from excellent sources that supports, proves or explains your thesis statement, so that the paper is more than your opinion.

Need a research topic?

See what is going on in the news to see if anything looks interesting to you OR try the last four links here for topic lists:

Chat with a Librarian Here:


About MLA

MLA-style documentation is used primarily for research papers in liberal arts and other humanities courses. This guide was created using the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.  There are copies of the MLA Handbooks at the Service Desk in the library. 

Keep track of the sources you may use in your assignments! E-mail articles and citations to yourself and keep them in a folder in your mailbox.