Academic Freedom - a Step-by-Step Research Guide

Related Subject Page - Education

Step 1: Locate background information on your topic

Consult Background Resources to find:

General print encyclopedias are found in the Social Sciences/Education Reference collection, Level 1. Use the encyclopedia's index volume to look up "Academic Freedom" and other subcategories you want to research. Read every article that seems relevant to your topic.

For Specialized print encyclopedias, use the Social Sciences/Education Reference collection, Level 1:

Online background resources are also available. For example:

Encyclopedia articles and other sources consulted:

Subcategories/arguments - possible ways to narrow to an issue question:

Terminology (subjects, keywords, phrases):

Authorities on this subject:

Titles of interest from bibliographies:

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Step 2: Develop & narrow your topic; form an issue question

From your background reading, select the subcategory/argument that interests you. Narrow it by using one or more of the following, and then form your issue question.

Sample issue question:

"Should representatives of avowed terrorist organizations be allowed to speak in a public university?"

Your issue question:

Identify terms, think of synonyms, and organize them in the chart below. Truncate keywords to find all possible alternate endings of the word by adding the correct truncation symbol at the end of the root word. The * is the truncation symbol and the ? is the wildcard symbol (for single charactters) in ScholarSearch. To find out what symbols are used for a database, use the database Help screens.

(Concept 1) _______________ or ________________ or ________________ (Synonymous terms dealing with Concept 1)

(Concept 2) _______________ or ________________ or ________________ (Synonymous terms dealing with Concept 2)

(Concept 3) _______________ or ________________ or ________________ (Synonymous terms dealing with Concept 3)

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Step 3. Find research materials to use in your paper

Now that you have gathered background information and formulated a research question, you are ready to find Books, Articles, Bibliographies, and Internet Resources.


Use the Books & More search to find specific titles from the bibliographies you noted above. Click Go to begin the search. Hovering the cursor over the Location will give you location and call number information you will need to locate the items. To find additional books, click on the "Subjects" which directly relate to the focus you have selected.

Use the Book & More - Advanced Search to find additional books on your issue question. Referring back to the concept chart above, enter your keyword search, one concept for each box.

Books you have found:


Use the Articles & More - Advanced Search selecting Search Scope: Education. Referring back to the concept chart above, enter your keyword search, one concept for each box. Click Go to begin the search. Click on the title of the article to read the abstract. Click the Full Text Available and Check for Full Text to view the entire article.

To retrieve additional articles, connect to the databases linked below, or select them from Databases A-Z in the Databases & Journals box on the Library Home Page. Depending on how you have narrowed your subject, other databases listed under Education may also be appropriate. If you are having difficulty finding relevant articles, ask for help at the Social Sciences / Education Reference Desk, Level 1.

For databases which do not link to the full text, enter the periodical title in the Journal Finder.

Articles you have found:


If you need more sources, consult bibliographies at the end of articles, chapters, and books you have found on your subject.

Internet Resources

Use Google Scholar to find reputable internet resources.

Internet resources you have found:

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Step 4. Evaluate and select research materials

You will need to evaluate and select the materials to use in your research paper. To do so, determine the following about the materials you have found:

  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Audience
  • Perspective
  • Timeliness

For more information about evaluating materials, see the Basic Research Strategy Guide.

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Step 5. Write drafts, cite sources, and write final paper

Use the sources and information you have found through this guide to write the first draft of your paper. Remember to document your research. Stop by the nearest Reference Desk to check out a copy of most style manuals (i.e., MLA, APA, etc.), or use the online Style Manuals.

Need additional help?

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