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*German: Research Process

Research Process in a Nutshell

If you would like help with any stage in the research process, please do not hesitate to contact a librarian for help.


  • What are you looking for?
  • Restate your topic as a question.
  • Then try to think of a new way of looking at the problem.
  • Break your topic into small parts
    • what components make-up your topic.
    • Research each independently and discover where they overlap
  • Search these small parts and other ideas that come to you as single-phrase "key words" which can be used independently or in combination with each other (ex. "Labor" and "London poverty")
  • These key words will open up the world of research for you.


  • Where should you look?
    • Research Starter: Found on the main library page, this search bar allows you to search across all of the library databases. Good for broad searching and starting your research. The more specific databases will all you to search deeper in a particular subject, however, and are preferred by most when doing more involved and scholarly research
    • Library Catalogue: The library catalogue is the record of all the books (including e-books) and other media that the library owns. Books are still the best place to start real scholarly research. Books allow for context and help to explain the complexities of any particular event, social or economic condition, epoch, etc. and will give you a better framework from which to continue your research and build your argument.
    • Article Databases: Databases are a great place to gather scholarly articles about your topic. Databases contain very specific information, so well throughout keywords will get you the best resources.
    • Google Scholar: Google Scholar is a wonderful research resource available to you and will help you understand the width and breath of the research available on your topic. If an article is available in the McDaniel College Library, a link will appear next to the resource and you will be able to easily access. Here is a short video about how to best utilize Google Scholar.
    • WorldCat: Like Google Scholar, gives you access to material outside of what Hoover Library owns. If there is a book, article, etc. that you find through WorldCat, submit an Inter-Library Loan request for that item and we will work to get you that item as soon as possible.
    • Wikipedia: Researcher beware! Wikipedia is good starting place to gather some background information, but do be aware that the information contained in Wikipedia may be inaccurate or may reflect the author's personal bias in ways that would not be allowed in scholarly materials. For the historian, Wikipedia represents the populist or generally accepted view of historical events, but not the historical truth or the nuanced nature of actual historical research. Use sparingly and with great caution.


  • Use the key words developed in your initial breakdown of your topic
  • Use casual sources like Wikipedia and your textbook to develop these key words as you would vocabulary words
  • Combine and limit in the way that makes the most sense
  • Remember, computers are smart, but only as smart as we allow them to be. By breaking your large topic into small, digestible pieces, you are increasing the computer's chance of understanding you and giving you the results you want.


  • Which results are most appropriate for your topic?  Scholarly, relevant, etc.
  • Ask Questions of your results:
    • Who?
    • What?
    • Where?
    • Why?
    • When?
    • So What?
  • Are you testing your own biases? Are you looking for information that refutes your argument as well as supporting information? Make sire you're not falling into the trap of echoing your own beliefs in your research. Let the truth guide your research. 

Rinse and Repeat! Research is a long process, but your excellent grades based on your work will be a fitting reward!

Research Worksheet

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