Answered By: Erin Mooney
Last Updated: May 25, 2016     Views: 118

Here is a good strategy for figuring out where to search for resources on your topic:

Think about what type(s) of sources you need. Look at whether the assignment specifies using peer-reviewed articles, newspaper articles, data, books, and/or videos.

Think about your topic. The topic you are researching will have an impact on the sources you can find. Are there books on this topic? Has it been covered by the press? Has it been researched by scholars? Is there data about this? If your topic is very new, chances are that you will find very few books or scholarly articles due to the long publication process for scholarly works.

Think about who might be writing about your topic. A topic like "race relations in prisons" might be explored by scholars in sociology, law, criminal justice, public policy, psychology, or ethnic studies. You can search by discipline or your academic field by using the databases and other library resources recommended in the Subject Guides.

Looking for books? Search the Emory Libraries catalog, discoverE (search the catalog tab and limit to "Books"). For help finding books, visit Finding Books on Your Topic.

Looking for articles? Good places to start are multi-subject databases, like Proquest databases or Academic Search Complete,  both of which provide scholarly, popular, and professional journal articles. Google Scholar is also a good place to find books and scholarly articles. However, the library also has dozens of subject-specific databases that will provide you with articles specific to your discipline. Browse the Subject Guides to find the one that most closely matches the subject of your topic, then review the databases that are recommended for research. Look at Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles too.

Looking for primary sources? Check out our guide to finding primary sources. Or check out these other research guides that focus on primary sources for particular subjects.

Looking for newspaper sources? See Finding Newspaper Articles.

Looking for data?

Good starting places:

  • Search Google for data on your topic. Search for "[your topic] statistics" or "[your topic] data".
  • Another good starting place for statistics is the Statistical Abstract of the United States (for U.S. and some international).

For more advanced searching try these:

Looking for government information? There is a research guide for finding general U.S. Government Information or check out our Government Documents FAQs.

Still not sure where to search? Ask a Librarian!

Thanks go to the Portland State University Library for sharing their Library DIY idea with us!

Chat with a Reference Librarian:


Call the Library Service Desk at (404) 727-6873.

Text us a question to (404) 994-3366.