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How do I start my research when writing a research essay?

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Research is a unique process, but you may want to review some of the material from the Getting Started guide to see the basics of academic research.

In general, it is best to FIRST start with comprehensive information sources. You are likely doing this already, as most people start researching topics with either a Google search and/or Wikipedia to find background information, key ideas and theorists, citations to articles, related terms, etc. However, we strongly encourage OCAD U researchers to begin with:

  • academic encyclopedias to ground your research in an academic context;
  • one of the best sources is Credo Reference , a portal that search over 750 academic encyclopedias, guides, handbooks at once!

Use broad search terms to start; for example if you are research an object from another time period or culture of the world, then these eras and/or country names will be your first search terms. If you are researching an nautilus shell cup from sixteenth century Germany, then the entry on Germany from Grove Dictionary in Oxford Art Online will help you evaluate the object through a material culture perspective.