How to Do Library Research for Your Academic Paper

Learning how to use a library for research is a skill that can come in handy as a student or even a teacher. Most students are usually required to write their academic papers providing ample research and analysis in just a short period.

When you’re pressed for time, learning how to make the library a powerful research tool and access information quickly now becomes of great importance.

Depending on your topic and assignment type, the resources you may require for your research can consist of various books from academic publishers. You could also need raw statistics and data, articles from scholarly or trade journals, government documents, and popular publications.

All of these types of sources can be conveniently found in libraries. In this guide, we take you through a step-by-step process on how to conduct research utilising the elements in a library.

What is library research?

Library research is a fundamental aspect of research projects in most academic settings. Students are responsible for examining relevant information accurately. They are also responsible for determining the reliability, usefulness, and authority of the information regarding the topics and projects to which they are assigned.

Library research is the technique utilised to collect and understand data from books, notes, theories, and documents. It is also determining that such data or information from library resources are accurate and relevant to your research objectives.

How to do library research?

Once you have settled on a topic, it is time to start developing search strategies for your research. In the beginning, it is natural to experience some difficulty and even doubt your choice of topic – especially when you experience trouble finding relevant information on it.

However, you have to remember that the information-gathering stage is all part of the learning and research process. Also, the process involved in exploring your topic can help you strengthen your argument.

To successfully create a library research paper, you can start by searching library databases, Google Scholar, or Library Articles to see what is out there and get an idea of the number of articles on your topic. Whether using Google or a regular library database, certain search strategies will produce faster and more accurate results.

How to do library research for your academic paper

The following steps provide an effective strategy on how to do research efficiently and accurately in a library.

Step 1: Choose your topic

The first and obvious process before gathering any information is to choose your topic. It would help if you were clear about what you are researching. A helpful way of achieving that is choosing a topic through an elimination process. This simply means that you should have more than one topic in mind and choose the most advantageous to you.

Step 2: Find keywords that express your topic ideas

You should make a list of words that accurately describe your topic. In this list, relevant information, in other words, related to your topic, should be added to make your library research easier.

This is a major step because subsequent research activities will entail using these keyboards in different search platforms or databases. For example, the library catalogue to find books or research databases to locate a journal.

Step 3: Search for background information

You can start your search with online encyclopaedias or printed works using the keywords and related information to your topic of discussion. Articles or journals from these sources will help you refine your topic and point you towards relevant references in articles, books, and other related information sources.

Step 4: Utilise an online catalogue to find books

By applying the keywords and related information that describes your topic, you can search online catalogues to find books relevant to your academic paper. Online catalogues are reliable library research sources. They can help you find appropriate materials and quality information related to your research topic.

Step 5: Use academic databases to find journals

You can research databases to find articles on your topic or go through library records to locate similar journals to your topic of interest. You can also use search tools like Journal Finder to see if journals are available in the library or a different research database.

Step 6: Analyse your findings

After going through these steps, the next step would be to evaluate the quality and authority of your research materials. To do this, consider the publisher, author, and dates of each resource material. This will be very useful in the analysis and construction of your research.

Secondly, you should determine whether the materials gathered are comprehensive enough and whether they point toward the intended audience. Ensure that the information you have procured meets the standards of academic research and study.

Step 7: Review your progress

This is the final step where you examine the success of the information you have collected in creating a good academic paper. Does it answer the major questions posed in your research? Is the topic too general? Or do you need more information about any area of your topic?

If you are not satisfied with your answers to this question, then begin the process from step one to accurately discover more relevant information.


This guide covers the basics of how to conduct research using library resources. Remember that Librarians are always available to help you with your research, and they provide better knowledge of the resources and materials available that can help you study.