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The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

Research Resources - Where to Start

Here are some tips to jumpstart your research!

Understand your assignment.
  • Do you need primary sources?
  • What kind of information will you need?
    • Books, websites, newspapers, videos, etc?
  • What does your teacher expect from you?

Be open to all types of information!

  • Build on your assumptions and expectations.
  • Create a list of key words, people, ideas or phrases related to your topic.

Great research starts with great sources

  • Google is not a source!
  • A source is an article, website, book, encyclopedia entry, movie, song, etc. 

Begin by looking at encyclopedias for topical overviews.

Wikipedia can be used as a tool in this beginning process, but should not be used as a source in your assignment. Use it to brainstorm keywords, gain a general understanding, and then corroborate what you find with reliable sources. Or just use a reliable encyclopedia to start with!

Use Proquest or other library databases to gather articles and other sources.

Take notes!

  • Keep a trail of your research process.
  • Which keywords worked?  Which didn’t? 

Don’t take too much time searching.  Research is about reading! 

  • If you are having trouble finding good things to read, ask the librarian and re-strategize your research process.
  • Don’t get stuck with irrelevant information. Keep your topic and thesis in mind!


The Herbst Library is open M-F from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach the librarian at:

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