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History: Library Resources: Pacific Northwest History Paper

Databases for articles on history of all eras

Where to Start: Preliminary Research

STEP 1: You must do some research 
before you come up with a 
research question.  

Start with tertiary sources (books, encyclopedias, Wikipedia, bibliographies etc). You are looking for general background information that is going to give you names, dates, locations, and general ideas on how to approach your topic. 

Example From Class:

Preliminary Research:

  • Learn more about your topic. 

  • What sounds interesting to you from what you discover?  

  • What gaps do you see in the information you have found?


Research Questions: Creating a Manageable Topic

Topic Narrowing Tools

Topic is Appropriate

  • Does it match the assignment? See Step 1.
  • Is it manageable? 
    • Time: Do you have the time to thoroughly research this topic and meet the requirements of the assignment?
      • Too broad?
      • Too specific?
    • Resources: Do you have access to relevant resources to address this topic?
    • Skills: Are you prepared to tackle this question (reading, writing, technical skills)?

Is it a good research question?

Does it study the topic/question in a new way?

Does it connect findings to a larger or specific group of people?

Does it share a perspective not often heard?

Does it share a new solution or way to perform tasks?

Next Steps: Information Collection

STEP 2: Information Collection


Start using required sources of information. 


The purpose of this phase is to actually find the resources that will enable you to complete your research. To do tis, you will want to:

  1. Identify the most appropriate databases or resource for your topic.
  2. Brainstorm the terminology.
  3. Combining search terms.
  4. Methodically search relevant databases and/ore other online sources.
  5. Request assistance from experts.


Next Steps: Research Review

STEP 3: Research Review

Edit your sources to the best selections.


At this stage, you should begin to feel confident and your anxiety should be relieved somewhat. This is a result of: 

- Staying on track

- Close to completion

- Still anxious


The purpose of this phase is to review the information to ensure that it is relevant and appropriate to your specific topic. This is also a good time to make sure that you are meeting all the assignment’s criteria. To do this, you will want to: 

- Reread your course assignment guidelines

- Evaluate the information you found

- Review reference lists


Next Steps: Search Closure

Step 4: Search Closure


Time to wrap things up and properly cite sources of information.


The purpose of this phase is to complete your information search and prepare to use the information you have found. In order to do this, you will want to: 

  • Scan for overlooked information 
  • Verify the information you have
  • Be Careful about Plagiarism
  • Review your assignment again


Get Materials from the SFCC Library

Can't Find an Item You Want?

If you find a reference to a book or article that does not seem to be available through the online catalog or article databases, the SFCC Library can get it for you! Contact the Reference Desk at 509-533-3834 / 800-251-1972, or submit an online interlibrary loan request.

Keep in mind that it may take ten days to two weeks for print materials to arrive. Articles will be primarily emailed and typically take up to 24-72 hours to arrive.

How to Request an Item from the CCS Libraries

This document, "Requesting a Document from the CCS Libraries," provides step-by-step instructions for requesting physical items, such as books and DVDs from the library.