Welcome to College-Level Research

Research at the college level requires good time management, planning, sharpened critical thinking, and consulting with librarians to locate scholarly sources of information.   

This guide includes some of the basic tools to help with your research. 

  • Use the "What is...?" tab to find definitions of key research-related terms. 
  • Use the "How to...?" tab for video tutorials and explanations with detailed steps and explanations.

High School vs. College Research

If you're new to college-level research, be prepared to experience differences in the research process, the library experience, and the assignments and projects you will encounter.

High School College
Google is the primary research tool. Subscription databases are the primary research tools.
Encyclopedias, books, & websites are the primary sources of information. Scholarly books and articles are the primary sources of information.
MLA citation style is frequently used. Different citation styles are used across subject areas.
Assignments include detailed directions & expectations. Assignment directions and expectations may not be as detailed.
Written assignments are shorter in length and can be completed in less time. Written assignments are lengthier and require more time to complete.
Teachers regularly check for progress and provide reminders about due dates. Professors expect students to follow deadlines communicated in the class syllabus.
Less severe penalties for cheating and plagiarism. College-wide policies include severe penalties including reduced or failing grades, suspension, and/or expulsion.
Less focus on understanding the differences between primary and secondary source materials. In some subject areas, the appropriate use of primary and secondary source materials is an essential skill. 
Library collections are smaller & organized using Dewey Decimal Classification. Library collections are larger & typically organized using Library of Congress classification.



Head, A.J. (2013). Learning the ropes: How freshmen conduct course research once they enter college. Project Information Literacy Research Report. Retrieved from https://projectinfolit.org/publications/first-year-experience-study/