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Not sure where to get started on your research? This guide is designed to help you make a research plan, choose a topic, and find your sources. An excellent starting point for any research paper writing assignment.

Research Basics

Research assignments can be difficult, especially if you are not sure how to get started.  This guide is intended to help you find your footing, make a research plan, and use all the resources available to help you with your assignment.  Don't forget, you can always reach out to your local librarians for assistance!

Research Tips

Before You Begin - A Checklist

To successfully find information you will need:

  • a well-defined topic
  • a keyword list with at least 3-4 main keywords to use in your search
  • a list of questions to answer or an "information wishlist"
  • an understanding of the kind of items you hope to find (academic? media? reports?)
  • places to search



 Use "quotation marks" for exact-phrase searching
  • "video games"
  • "British Columbia
  • "freedom of the press"
  • "needle exchange"
Search for keywords within specific fields - use the drop-down list beside the search box.
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Subject
  • Source Title
 Use suggested topics, subjects and thesaurus terms for more refined searching  
 Use the available limiter options (left side of results page)
  • Full text only (excludes books)
  • Peer-reviewed Articles (excludes books)
  • by Date
  • by Format
  • by Subject
  • by Geography
Use narrower keywords
  • video games > first person shooters
  • safe-injection sites > Insite
  • Vancouver > Hastings Street, Downtown Eastside



 Use "or" to look for versions of the same concept (synonyms, related words)
  • child or youth or teen
  • safe-injection or "needle exchange" or Insite
  • Vancouver or BC or "British Columbia" or "Lower Mainland"
  Use * [shift+8] after a word's root to search all endings
  • Canad* = Canada, Canadian, Canadians
  • "video gam*" = video game, video games, video gaming
  Use broader keywords
  • video games < media < entertainment
  • safe-injection < harm reduction policies < drug addiction

Tutorial - Using ONEsearch

Many TSTC Library online resources (databases, electronic books) want to authenticate you to ensure you're a TSTC student before giving you access. When you try to access these resources off-campus, and occasionally when you are on campus, this screen will appear:

Just enter your TSTC OneID username and password.

Forgotten your username or password?

If you are asked to log in to a page that doesn't look like the above screen, something has gone wrong.  Contact us to help sort it out.


Research Tutorials

Gale In Context - College Database
Using Free Citation Generators Tutorial
All Research Tutorials

Research Links and Handouts

Getting Started

Using Databases