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Tools for Organizing Your Research and Citing Sources

Citation manager are apps that allow you to gather together your sources and their information in one place, and create citations in lots of different styles, such as APA, MLA and Chicago, to put into your papers and projects.

Zotero is a good tool if you always use your own computer to do research.

RefWorks is a good tool if you tend to work from a lot of different computers, and need something that is accessible online from anywhere.

Types of Sources

Popular sources, like newspapers, magazines and blogs or wikipedia pages, are not appropriate sources of information for your final project. This handout helps explain the differences between popular, trade and scholarly sources.


Books can be a good place to find discussions of theory. Here are some titles that might help.

Searching Library Databases

When you are searching for an article, book, book chapter or other information on your topic, it is important to use keywords. These are the most important words and phrases in your research question, research statement, or thesis statement. 

The search in a database (or any search engine) does not answer questions. It matches the words you have specified in the search box. Unlike search engines like Google, the database search runs minimal algorithms on your specified search--it matches the words first. Removing unnecessary words from your search improves your results.

Recommended Databases for Searching

Summon is a way to search almost all of the library's full-text online and print resources simultaneously. When you get your results, select the "Add Results Beyond Your Library's Collection" to expand to resources your can order through Interlibrary Loan, a free service provided by the library system.

Searching Disciplinary and Specialized Databases

Sometimes you can locate resources more easily using disciplinary or specialized databases. Their collections are much more focused. 

Here are some databases you might consider.

Polling data, surveys, research

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be a great tool to:

Find articles when you have a citation (search for the article title)

Use the Cited by and Related Articles to find similar articles

Use the " under the citation to copy/paste a citation in MLA, APA or Chicago style.