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Richard Welsh Library: How to Research


How to Research

This page will help you begin the research process. It covers where to find reliable resources, locating your sources (search strategies), and evaluating information. You can start searching NewSchool's resources on our Research Page.  Find articles, browse digital magazines, read eBooks, and more!

Research Rabbit

findnig information at NewSchool

Our Top Four


#1) The Library Catalog!

Search the NewSchool Library Catalog to find print books, eBooks, digitized student thesis and more. 

#2) Library Databases 

Search five databases simultaneously through EBSCO to find scholarly articles on architecture, design, construction and related topics.

  • Limit you search to Full Text to search for articles available as pdfs.
  • Check out the Library A-Z Database List to see all our subscriptions.

#3) Subject Guides for resources by topic.

View our full list of subject guides to explore by topic.

#4) Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great tool to search for articles online. A PDF icon on the right-hand side lets you know if the article is accessible.


habits of a good researcher

7 Habits of a Good Researcher

  1. Browse the stacks
  2. Create a thesis statement (roadmap for your essay)
  3. Use reference works
  4. Use bibliographies
  5. Consult a librarian
  6. Use abstracts
  7. Use databases


information literacy

Information Literacy


The term Information Literacy is used by librarians to describe a series of skills. These are the ability to find information,evaluate information for quality, and effectively use information for research.

Information Literacy is also important for people in creative fields because they need to be able to correctly inform their work, reference predecessors and contemporaries without plagiarizing, engage in historical and contemporary dialog about their field, and meet professional expectations of subject expertise.


The Research Process

The research process is not linear-- it does not go from point A to B. Instead, you may find yourself going back and forth between steps, refining your topic as you discover more, or changing your thesis statement. This is a natural part of the process. Don't be discouraged!




Adapted from the American Library Association (ALA)

You can jump straight into some background research, or you may want to start by defining your topic. This step is described in our  How to Write an Academic Paper guide. 

Guidelines on Where to Find Quality Sources

Where to Find Quality Sources

Just like the best meals start with quality ingredients, research papers start with quality information sources. 

The best information comes from secondary

sources that have been created by experts:

  • Scholarly Journals
  • Peer Reviewed Articles
  • Academic Databases
  • Books

Less quality information comes from sources

that do not necessarily require an expert to write

or critique them, such as:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Open Internet Websites
Other sources are less scholarly but still valid:
  • Commercial Websites
  • Personal Websites
  • Wikis (like Wikipedia)
  • Blogs

Never treat what is on Wikipedia as surefire truth. Wikipedia   

It is best practice to avoid open internet resources, such as those found through search engines like Google because of:

  • Misinformation: algorithms organize websites by popularity rather than quality. So, often the most sensational websites are listed first. 
  • Information Overload: search engines will bring back thousands of results.
  • Authorship: it is important to be aware of the agenda and biases of corporate and commercial websites, as well as those created and maintained by unqualified individuals who are presenting their personal interests and perspectives. Information accessible on the open web should be suspect unless it is informed by scholarship or scholarly investigation.

search strategies

Locate Your Sources : The Search

After you've decided where to look  you need to search for relevant materials on your subject.

To begin, think about what you'd like to write about (e.g. an architect, a building, comparing several theories) and then create an opinion about it. Decide what you want to express and find out if there are scholarly resources to support it. Follow this workflow to ensure you have all the information you need to write a strong research paper. 

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Superficial research: open web
  3. Establish keywords and phrases 
  4. Deep research: library catalog and databases 
  5. Use expanders and limiters to refine results
  6. Collect research and citations
  7. Use the ideas and opinions presented by others to formulate original ideas of your own
  8. Craft a thesis statement and do another deep search using key terms from the statement

Quick Guide : Constructing a Database Search:

Topic: What are the effects of spanking on children?

1. Identify the key concepts (children, spanking, consequence)

2. Group these according to concept.

  • Concept one = children or kids
  • Concept two = spanking or physical punishment
  • Concept three - consequence or effects



Use quotations marks around words you want to search as a phrase, e.g. "physical punishment" 

Find the Advanced Search Option: every database has one. View the expanders and limiters available and play with options:

  • Full-Text: Limits results to complete articles. To view accompanying images choose the .pdf if available
  • Peer Reviewed: Limits results to articles that have been evaluated for quality by scholars prior to publication.

Nesting: Use parentheses to search for a grouping of terms (Tadao Ando) 

Wildcard: Use a ? or * in place of a word to search for part of a phrase, eg. "The devil is in the *.

Truncation: Use an asterisk (*) to retrieve all possible endings on a word. Appropriat*  will bring back results for appropriate and appropriation.

Boolean Operators: Use ANDNOTOR, to join or exclude terms.

  • (Tadao Ando) AND architecture
  • Japan NOT Kyoto
  • Kyoto OR Tokyo

Be prepared to search more than one database. Always revise your search strategy to comply with individual database requirements.


Evalue Your Sources

Evaluate Your Sources

Great Job! You've found some materials on your topic from a variety of sources: websites, books, and journals. Next, you need to evaluate the quality of the information. Be skeptical. Ask yourself, is this information CRAAP?


Current: When was this source published? How recent is this information, and is there somewhere that has more up-to-date information?

Relevant: Does this information relate directly to my topic, or is it covering something else?

Accurate: Can I cross-check the facts in this source? Do they include a bibliography so that you can see where they got their information? Does the information in here corroborate with other sources on the same topic?

Authoritative: Who wrote this paper? Are they an expert? What type of source is this? (newspaper, website etc.)

Purposeful: What is the purpose of this paper? Can you see any bias or conflict of interest?


Remember, academic papers are expected to have good quality sources. Only use sources that pass the CRAAP test.

cite your sources

Cite your Sources

Now that you've found and evaluated your sources, you need to use the information to inform your paper. This requires you to cite your sources (otherwise you are plagiarizing!). Use the APA Citation Help guide to ensure you are using information ethically.

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RICHARD WELSH LIBRARY at NewSchool of Architecture + Design

1249 F Street San Diego CA 92101

619 684 8783