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Library Orientation: Where Do I Start?!?

An easy access point to the LRD library resources.

Using the Library's Web Resources Off Campus

Many of the library's web-based resources, such as article databases and electronic books, can be used off-campus anywhere you have access to the internet.

To access these items you must use the links provided on the library website or links located in research guides, such as this one.

A Word on Wikipedia

Many people begin researching a new topic using the website Wikipedia. Because anyone can edit a Wikipedia page it makes it very hard to know if the information contained in them is accurate. Because of this, Wikipedia is NEVER an appropriate source to use in your assignments.

Instead, start with this source, which performs similarly BUT contains information from trustworthy sources. It also links you to other LRD resources that you can use.

We Can Help!

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We're here for YOU!

Remember, you can always contact us with questions.

Email: ask@udc.libanswers.com

Phone: 202-274-5104

In-Person: Bldg 39, Level B
Schedule an Appointment

Where Do I Start?

Knowing what to do first when starting a research project can be confusing. The first rule of starting a research project is to understand the assignment - what do you have to turn in? What kind of materials are you required to use? If you have questions about this, always ask your professor.

Once you understand what you need to turn in, the second step is to gather some background information on the topic you're researching. There are various things you can do or use to gather this introductory information:

  • Talk to your professor about your topic. They know the subject in and out and will be able to help you focus on materials that will be useful.
  • Use your textbook. Read any section that deals with your research topic. Note any references made to other publications that could be helpful.
  • Consult a reference resource, such as an encyclopedia or dictionary. There are many academic reference resources available to you through the library website. Additionally, the library has reference resources available for many different subject areas in the reference section on the Level B of Building 39.
  • Get help from a reference librarian. Librarians usually have a good idea of what materials are available and can help you access those materials.

An Important Note on Using Reference Materials: Reference materials are ONLY USED FOR GATHERING BACKGROUND INFORMATION. They are not used as a cited source.*

* Sometimes reference materials are cited, but only when they have been utilized as a primary source. See the Primary vs. Secondary Sources tab (above).

Gathering Information to Start a Project

When starting a research paper or project you may not have a lot of knowledge of or information on the subject.  That's where reference materials come in. Things like:

  • dictionaries
  • encyclopedias
  • atlases
  • thesauri

can be very useful in getting started.

Reference materials are used to gain academically sound background information on a topic. This background information will allow you to begin your research with basic knowledge of and information on your topic.

The UDC Library provides access to multiple types of reference materials in a variety of subject areas. Many of the library's reference materials are available online. (See below for links.) The library also has many other reference resources available on level B of Building 39 in the reference section.

Library fact: Many reference materials held by a library are not available for check out - they are available for in-library use only. This is done to ensure that all students have equal access to these helpful materials.

Online General Reference Resources

Subject Specific Reference Resources

The library has many very useful subject-specific reference resources available in the Reference section.

For help finding and using these reference materials, please contact a reference librarian. You'll see contact information on the left and right sides of this page

Subject Guide