Skip to main content

College Writing 1: Official Guide

Gathering Sources

As you prepare to gather sources, ask yourself:

  1. What information do I need in order to complete my assignment?
  2. Who might write or create that sort of information?
  3. Where might I locate this information?

Starting Points

Good news: You are already an experienced researcher! We find information everyday by using our devices to search Google (or other search engines), crowd source our friends, or catch up on news on social media. It's easy to make the the jump to use these and other tools to search for information for a research assignment. Understanding where to start, what the tool is searching, and what it will find is an important skill you'll hone for your assignment.

For example, you might already know Google Scholar has one search box and searches across many scholarly disciplines and resources, but only skims the top of the web. Did you also know the library has over 930 databases, each one unique to finding specific types of information on specific subjects? Exploring how each tool works and what it searches will help you target the types of information you're seeking. 

Find out more about what you're searching (and what you're missing!) by clicking this picture:

Google vs. The Deep Web 

Learn more at http://money.cnn.com/infographic/technology/what-is-the-deep-web/

Google vs Deep web illustration.

Information Needs Table

Background Information Broad Overview Detailed Information
You probably already look at Wikipedia. It's a good place to start. Try searching the Library Catalog for books to give you a topic overview. You probably already use Google Scholar. It's a great starting point. Make sure you are connected to WUSTL Libraries in your settings!
Try Gale Virtual Reference Library for thorough background information on a topic.  Have you thought about CQ Researcher? This gives you multiple types of sources for a topic overview. Academic Search Complete could give you more access to detailed information, such as peer reviewed, scholarly journal articles.