Skip to main content
Banner Image

Business: A Guide to McFarlin Library Resources: Constructing a Reseach Paper

Constructing a Research Paper

Identify and Develop a Topic

Selecting a research topic is much like deciding on a travel destination. Once you have narrowed your ideas to an interesting subject, write down a brief statement about this topic.  For example: "Rock groups of the 60s, their popularity and major influence on the music industry."  Once the topic is selected, write down specific questions that you'll want to answer.  The research process will drive your destination.  Your original topic may develop into something entirely different.  You may choose to follow an alternate path and go down a different road.

Find Background Information

After determining the topic, you can map out your route. You must identify the types of sources that will provide  the information needed, then determine where to find these sources. Types of sources that should be considered include books, periodicals, the Internet and other libraries (interlibrary loan).

The key to finding books is the online library catalog called Encore.  Search in Encore by selecting a keyword that best describes your topic.  You can also search the Classic Catalog by title, author, subject or keyword. In addition to books, the catalog allows you to search for periodicals, government documents, audiovisual material, and Special Collections.   

 If you get lost during your sight-seeing trip, stop and ask directions.  The following reference sources will be most useful to acquire quick answers to any questions you may have.

  •  Begin with Encyclopedias, then to get off the main drag, use Subject Encyclopedias.

  •  What does it mean?  Use a Dictionary.       

  •  How much, how many?  Find Statistical Information.

  •  Who?  Find Biographical Information.

  •  How can I get in touch?  Use a Directory.  

  •  Where do I go from here?  Bibliographies.

Find Journal Articles

Periodicals include newspapers, magazines, and journals.  They are published regularly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.  Journals are periodicals containing articles written by experts in a particular field of study.  If the researcher wrote the article, is it a primary source.  If reporters write the article, such as in popular magazines, it is a secondary source.  Typically, journal articles contain extensive bibliographies that lead to additional sources.


Rita Howell
McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa
2933 E. 6th St.
Tulsa, OK 74104-3123
Phone: 918-631-2876
FAX: 918-631-3791

Go to:   The University of Tulsa   |   McFarlin Library   |   Mabee Legal Information Center

McFarlin Library
2933 East 6th St., Tulsa, OK 74104-3123
918-631-2873  |  FAX 918-631-3791  |