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Home >> Research Services >> Research Services Blog >> Need Research Help? Start Here!
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When do I use a Research Guide?

We recommend consulting research guides to search peer-reviewed literature in a specific discipline. Subject specific databases allow you to do comprehensive, strategic and efficient searching of the literature of your discipline.

Consult the one search box on the library homepage, for articles to generate massive lists of articles on your topics from all types of periodicals including magazines, trade publications and journals that you then can narrow by a variety of limits.

The Research guides were created to help make research in a subject easier for you because a guide offers you the best resources in a certain subject area and organizes sources in a focused way that saves you time and effort.  

Think of it this way.  Some research subject areas require you to know what databases to use to look for different information types to complete different class assignments. For example, when researching a  business information,  some databases offer company information, some offer industry reports, some offer articles in a variety of business fields,  while others offer demographic information, and still others offer business information for industries outside the U.S.. The list could go on. 

What does this mean for you?   It may not be clear to you which database you should be going to find the type of information you seek.

The Research guides were created to help with this issue.

Finding a Research guide

  • To get to the Research guides, at the library home page at library.sdsu.edu, hover over the FIND option on the upper banner of website. Then click into Research by Subject.  Or you can find them here.
  • Find the broad subject of research you have to do. Click on that subject in the list. The guide will come up.
    • For example, if you are working on a project about literacy rates in urban schools, go to the broader subject guide on Education for help. If you are not sure which guide to look at, choose the guide that would fit for your class.  So, if you are in a biology class, look at the biology guide.

Tips for using Research guides

  • Once at the guide, notice the tabs on the left hand side of the guide. Each tab leads you to different types of information sources.   For example, to find an article, peer-reviewed or otherwise in a subject area, click on the Articles tab on the Research guide for that subject area.  The Articles tab gives you a list of library databases that you can search in your subject to retrieve journal articles. 
  • The tab for Citing Your Sources, helps you figure out the correct citation style for you subject area to use in your paper or project, eg. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc..
  • The Tips tab
    • Most Research guides also have a tips tab.  Tips are designed for you based on the frequently asked questions from students searching for sources in your subject area. Tips give you detailed instructions on sources to use to find that particular research items, and step by step instructions for using a databases to get to the precise kind of information you need.
  • Contact Information
    • On each guide there is contact information for the librarian with subject expertise in your particular subject area. Don’t hesitate to contact this subject expert for help on a topic or with using the guide.

If you have questions about using Research guides to get started on a paper or project, stop by the research services desk today.

Written by: Brittany Geissinger, Questions: eref@mail.sdsu.edu

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Research Services Contact

Location: Library Addition, 1st Floor
Phone 619.594.6728  Text: 619.567.9743
Email: eref@mail.sdsu.edu

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