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The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the M├ętis Nation. More

University 1 Library Guide: How Research Works

Getting started in the University of Manitoba Libraries


The most important part of a successful search is what words you type into the search box. So before you start searching, brainstorm a list of terms to search. As you do, ask yourself:

  • Are there synonyms for any of your search terms?
  • What is the relevant context of this topic? (Eg: Is it an example of an active learning strategy, note taking method, etc?)
  • What potential effects or implications do you see for your topic? (Eg a note taking strategy might result in improved retention of the material, improved grades, etc.)

These questions can help you think of more search terms.

As you search, you will come across relevant information that uses other terms. Write these down too and try incorporating them into your searches.

Be aware that, whether consciously or unconsciously, during the search process you are constantly evaluating the information you find – so think about how you’ll evaluate sources before you start searching. (See ‘Evaluate.’) Be aware that you’re unlikely to find 3 sources that fit your exact topic. Instead you will find information that is relevant to some aspects of your essay, but not others. That's ok - your job is to take the relevant information out of those sources and synthesize it in your own essay.


Type some of the search terms you identified (see Think) into the search box on the libraries' homepage. This will take you to a search results page. Sign In with your UMNetID and password (you’ll be redirected back to your search results).

Tip: Scroll through and identify relevant results. Click the pin icon pin icon beside any title, and it will be saved to your e-shelf to find more easily later.

Tip: Click ‘Details’ under a search result to learn more about it. This will help you determine if it’s relevant.

Look at the column on the left for ‘filters’ that will limit your results by date, format, or other criteria.

Continue to search with different terms in different combinations. How you enter your terms and combine them will affect your results.


Once you have found something of interest and signed in with your UMNetID:

  • Items that are available online will have a green Full Text Available link: Full Text Available link
    Click that link, and then follow one of the blue links. See how it works.
  • Items that are available in paper copies: under the title, find where it says “Available at” to determine the library location and the call number. Click Map It! Map it button to find its location within the library, and write down the Shelf # to help you find it.

If you already know the name of a book or article and just need to access it, type the title in the search bar, find it in the results, and follow directions above.


Think critically about how relevant and credible a source is.Your assignment also requires that sources are ‘current’ and ‘academic.’

  • ‘Current’ means recent enough that it’s not out of date. There isn’t a hard and fast rule on this, so think critically and ask for help if you need it.
  • ‘Academic’ means that it was written by an academic researcher, for an academic audience. Academic sources usually go through the process of peer review. (Find peer reviewed sources.) Look at the language used, the references listed, and the publisher to get a good idea of whether or not your source is academic.



APA: The Libraries has videos for help with quoting and paraphrasing, and creating citations and references in APA.

We also offer handouts as go-to sources for the mechanics of citations and references in APA, MLA, and Chicago. Find more.