The first step in effective research is to gain a working understanding of your topic by doing background research. There are many ways to get background on your topic.

Searching the Web

Good research can be done by searching the internet for good sources using your favorite search engine. 

Popular search engines:




About URL Extensions

All web addresses (URLs) have an extension such as .com, .gov, .org, etc.  Some of these extensions can be helpful in identifying a source but many are not helpful.  Extensions such as .com, .net, .info, and even .org can be almost any type of website including commmercial, personal, etc. 

Helpful extensions:

.gov means you are looking at a site provided by a department or agency of the United States government.

.mil means you are looking at a site created by a branch of the United States military.

.edu means you are looking at a site hosted by a college or university but be sure you are not looking at a student page, a personal blog, or similar item hosted on the college's site.

Country extensions- a country domain extension is an indicator that the page you are looking at was creating and maintained in a foreign country.  Examples- Canada = .ca,  Mexico = .mx, China = .cn, etc.

ImportantA domain extension is no guarantee of quality.  Regardless of the extension you must review the information found on a website and check it for accuracy.  


Using Reference Works

A Reference Work is a resource that provides factual information and are usually organized in a way to allow the user to find information quickly.  Examples of reference works include encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, indexes, almanacs, etc.  

Some reference sources at the library include:

The Print Reference Collection at Kellogg Library is on the 3rd floor just outside of the librarian offices.  

CQ Researcher

Gale Virtual Reference Library