This Week in Reference: Making Research Less Scary during Spooky Season

The word “research” can strike fear into the stoutest of hearts, and at the Research Help Desk, we’ve seen the prospect of research drain the blood from many faces.

Before you have your next near-death experience with research, we urge you to join our ranks. As seasoned research hunters, we’re armed with wooden stakes, loads of garlic, and pure determination, ready to help you slay any blood-sucking research project in your path.

Before you begin your hunt, it’s important to arm yourself with the proper tools, starting with devising a plan, which includes:

  1. choosing a topic,
  2. getting background information, and
  3. creating a search strategy.

Once the steps above are complete, you’ll want to:

  1. find books and e-books
  2. find articles,
  3. evaluate your sources, and
  4. cite your sources.

We can help you at any step in this process and if you ever feel stuck you can always chat with a librarian in real time. You can also sign up for one-on-one training (in person or online) with one of our librarians by making an appointment.

Not sure what to ask us? Here are a few examples of recent questions that we received through our online chat:

  • Are there any recent books on the migration of Puerto Rican women?
  • Could you help me find up-to-date opinion articles about the continuation of remote learning and the benefits/deficits of it?
  • I need to find three scholarly sources for my WRD 104 paper. My research topic is society’s fascination with cultural figures who died young, and the psychology behind it. Where should I look?
  • Can you help me find any qualitative/ethnographic studies on street fundraising or “chuggers”?
  • Could I get some help looking for some peer-reviewed, scholarly sources about the biological influences of bipolar disorder, specifically from the APA PsycInfo database?

Here’s a transcript from a recent chat to give you an in-depth look at one of the many ways our librarians can help you:

Patron: Hi! I am trying to find a primary source about the shortage of teachers and why there is one.

DePaul Librarian: Hi, what kind of primary source material were you thinking of using?

Patron: I am mostly leaning towards statistics or expert opinions.

DePaul Librarian: Do you want to focus on Chicago or nationally?

Patron: Nationally.

DePaul Librarian: Thanks. I think the first place to go is the National Center for Education Statistics:

DePaul Librarian: Are you focusing on a certain level of education like primary, secondary, college, and so on?

Patron: I want to focus on jobs in public elementary and high school, if that’s possible.

DePaul Librarian: Okay, let me take a look at their stats. If you want to explore as well, hover over the menu. Then we’ll meet back here in a few minutes.

Patron: Okay!

DePaul Librarian: Here’s the first thing I found that seems relevant:, but I’ll see if there’s anything else. Did you find anything yet?

Patron: Yes, I found a couple of statistics, thanks!

DePaul Librarian: Oh good. Do you feel satisfied with those items, or should we keep looking?

Patron: Yes I do, thank you!

DePaul Librarian: Okay, have a wonderful day.

Patron: You too!

DePaul Librarian: Thanks!

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