Western Libraries


Starting Your Research

Choosing a Topic

Settling on a topic that will be both interesting and manageable is often the hardest part of research.  Googling any topic may help, but can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused.  A technique that will help is using topical encyclopaedias to learn about the background and scope of the topic that you are considering. There are a number of encyclopaedias available in the D.B. Weldon Reference Collection on the 1st floor, as well as many available online. Check the SELECTED RESOURCES tab for links to our online items.

Understanding Your Topic

No matter what topic you are writing about, the Western Libraries Research Guides can help.  Our research guides bring together the best resources on each subject.  Choose the subject page most appropriate for your project (hint: you are on one right now!). Each research guide also gives you contact information for the appropriate subject librarian so that you can get further help should you need it.

Developing Your Topic

Once you have decided on a topic and you have begun to search, it is helpful to reframe your topic's concepts in every way imaginable. The best way to do this is through concept mapping. A concept map is a diagram that helps you plan and develop your search. To learn more about concept mapping please view Western Libraries tutorial on the topic or visit the research help desk.  


Keeping Track of Your Research

Everyone has their own methods for keeping track of their research.  If you are looking for ways to streamline the process, you might want to try some of the tools that Western Libraries provides.

My Library Account: You can log in to your Library Account with your Western e-mail username and password to save searches that you have done in the OMNI Catalogue, request email notifications of new items relevant to saved searches, and see a list of the books that you have signed out (My Reading History).

Citation Management Software: There are a number of different programs available that help you streamline your research by managing your citations. Western Libraries no longer recommends a specific citation management software, however two popular ones are: Mendeley, and Zotero. Each of these products is available as a free download, and allow you to save your citations, create bibliographies, and cite through word processor plugins. Please consult WIKIPEDIA'S Comparison of reference management software to help you decide which is right for your research purposes.