Starting Research: Get the Big Picture
Once you have a basic idea of what your topic is, you'll need to get an idea of the big picture. What are the major issues involved in your topic? What are the terms associated with it?
Reference sources are a great way to begin your search. They'll show you which sources experts recommend and give you ideas for specific areas of the topic you may want to research. These are often broad and general, so it's best to start here and narrow your topic down as you progress.
Get Research Help
Librarians at Pratt want to help you with your research :) Here's how to contact us:
Research Help @ the Pratt Libraries
Bookplate of Winward Prescott, via Pratt Institute Library's Flickr collection of book plates (click image to further explore)
To help you develop your research skills, this guide offers a collection of research strategies and resources that are helpful for Freshman English students. Learn how to use the online catalog, PrattCat, to find a book; search for articles in online databases; avoid plagiarism by citing sources in footnotes and bibliographies; and more!
Where to Start
A few basic parts of the research process:
1. Brainstorm topic ideas (making a concept map really helps)
2. Find basic background info on a topic (usually in a reference source)
3. Refine the topic and choose a research question based on the initial info
4. Look for information on your topic in books or articles
5. Evaluate that information. Do you really want to be associated with this resource?
6. Incorporate information from the resources into your project responsibly.
Catalog - A database of books, magazines, and other items at a library. Our catalog is called PrattCat.
Circulation Desk - This is also on the main floor, right by the entrance. This is where you can borrow materials.
E-Journal - An electronic version of a print journal
Interlibrary Loan - Ordering an item from another library. Pratt will order the item and you can borrow it from us.
Library Database - A collection of electronic books and periodicals. It's like browsing the bookshelves electronically.
Periodical - A magazine, journal, newspaper, or other publication that comes out periodically
Reference Book or Reference Source - A large collection of general information like Wikipedia (not to be used for this assignment or most college-level research), Encyclopedia Britannica or Oxford Art Online.
Reference Desk - This is on the main floor. It's where librarians are available to help you with research and finding materials.
Narrowing the Topic
Based on your findings in books and reference sources, you'll want to narrow down your topic so that you can focus on a few main points. A few ways to do this are:
-Look at the terms used by authors of general works
-Look for the main concepts or issues mentioned in general sources
-Look at citations in general sources (the bibliography at the end of a reference article) or for mentions of experts in the field
Get Writing Help
Pratt's Writing and Tutorial Center (WTC) wants to help you become a better research paper writer. Walk-in or make an appointment to get help.
Conversation groups are also avaible for international students!
Contact the WTC
-Location: North Hall on the 1st floor
-Phone (718) 636-3459
-Monday to Thursday, 10am-8pm