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Life Science Lab Assistant Program

Step 1

Understand Your Assignment

It is important to completely understand what your assignment is before you begin your research. To do this ask yourself these questions:

  • How many pages does it need to be?
  • How many sources do I need?
  • What kinds of sources are needed? Books or articles? Scholarly or peer reviewed?
  • Is there a specific question/topic that needs to be addressed in the assignment?
  • In what format should it be written? Opinion or argumentative paper? Or general research?

Step 2

Choose a Topic

This is an important step in the research process! When the topic is not assigned and you must choose your own topic, consider the following:

  • Choose a topic that is interesting to you.
  • Need help selecting a topic?   Use the resources under the "Useful Websites" and "Videos" tabs for topic ideas.
  • Make sure the topic meets the guidelines set out in your assignment.
  • After you have selected a topic, use the "Find Books" tab to use the Library Catalog and the "Find Articles" tab to access Databases to find journal and magazine articles on your topic.Ask your instructor if you have any doubts or questions about the assignment.

Step 3

Develop your Topic

Once you have decided on a topic you can follow these helpful steps to assist you in developing your topic.

  1. Restate your topic in the form of a question. For example, "What are the effects of tobacco use on oral health in young adults?" As you begin searching, ask yourself if the article you are looking at will help you answer your topic question -- if it won't, move on to the next article.
  2. Identify keywords. --> Tobacco use, oral health, young adults. These can be used as keywords when searching databases.
  3. Determine alternate phrases. Try effects of smoking on oral health, or nicotine use AND oral health, or oral hygiene.
  4. Explore your topic. Begin the searching process by using your key terms to see if you are getting too much information or not enough information. If you are getting too much information you will need to narrow your topic (this is when you can use your alternate phrases), for example "What are the effects of tobacco use on oral health in young adults" can be narrowed to "What are the effects of smoking on oral health in young adult males". If you are not getting enough information you will need to broaden your search.

Related Research Guides

For additional and related information on the environment, consider viewing these Library Research Guides:

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000