ENGL 1010 - Waters

Library Resources for Alex Waters' English 1010 course

The Research Process

Step 1     Choose and Narrow Topic

The research process begins when you begin to think about your topic.  Write your research in the form of questions. 

Background research and information may be helpful during this time.

Use these databases for background information

Credo Reference

Biography in Context

CQ Researcher

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Narrow your topic before beginning to do research.  This may require repeating the steps several times.  If you narrow your topic too much, you may not get many results, while having too broad a topic will result in way too many results. 

Step 2  Choose your search terms

Think about your keywords. You may need to divide your topic into sections.  Use synonyms and related terms.  Using a mind map is an effective tool in identifying keywords and related terms.  

Create your search terms using the following tips:

  • Use quotation marks for exact phrases
  • Use And to narrow your search.  Results will contain words connected with And
  • Use Or to broaden your search.  Results will contain either search term
  • Use Not to limit your search, to exclude a search term

Step 3 Determine what sources you need and begin your search

Decide what types of resources you need to determine where to search for that information. 

To search for print books click here.

Using Databases 

Watch the Video below for a student's perspective on using library databases.


Some recommended databases can be found here.

You will potentially need to search more than one database.  Use subject terms to help you find more information.  Narrow or broaden your search using the limiters available.

Can't find something?  We can try to get it for you!  Click here to learn about Interlibrary Loan and the LOUIS card.

Step 4 Gather your research and evaluate your information

This step is probably the most time consuming step in the process.

Evaluate information using the CRAP Test

Evaluating information is especially important when completing academic research assignments in college because you will be evaluated on the quality of sources you use. The CRAP Test is a helpful tool to use when deciding if a source is high-quality and credible. CRAP stands for currency, reliability, authority and purpose. These are the four areas you'll consider when evaluating a source.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you go through the evaluation process.


  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the item been updated?
  • Is the information current enough for your topic?


  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Is the information accurate and well-edited?


  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are his/her credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable? What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is the information fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
  • Is the information biased? Do the author or publisher seem to be pushing an agenda or particular side?
  • Is the author/publisher trying to sell you something? Are there advertisements? If so, are they clearly stated?

Clackamas Community College Library

Step 5 Create your citations

Click here to get MLA citation help