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Senior Seminar Resource Guide

Here is where you'll find all sorts of resources and helpful tips that will help you in your Senior Seminar Project.

Getting Started:

Finding a topic:

The library has many resources to help you decide on a topic for your paper. Below are a few resources you can try:

  • Today's Science
    Great resource for investigating current hot topics in a variety of subject areas. Today's Science is specifically focused on scientific topics.
  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context
    This database is popular with people preparing for debates and it's a great place to get some ideas for research project.
  • Access Science
    The Access Science database provides research updates, encyclopedia entries, multi-media resources, and study aids on a wide variety of topics to students and researchers. You can either keyword search the database or you can browse the content by topic.
  • Search Our Library Catalog
    Try typing in some keywords that interest you into our library catalog. Browse the list of results to see if anything stands out as a possible topic. Examples: Climate change, genetics, crime scene investigation, etc.

You also may want to do some general keyword searches in our interdisciplinary databases to see what you can find that sparks your interest. Here are a couple to get you started:

If you really want to shake things up, try looking at some of these other resources:

So you found a topic, now what?

Congratulations, but keep an open mind. You may need to adjust your topic if you don't find the necessary resources for your paper. Communicating with your mentor is key here; make sure you talk to them often about your topic so you can stay on track.

Your next step is to try and find some research articles and/or books that are relevant to your topic:

  • Library Catalog (for finding books and eBooks)
    Use your keywords to find print and electronic materials related to your subject. If you find something that interests you, pay close attention to SUBJECT headers on the item's record in the catalog to see if you can find related materials. These subject headers will also come in hand when you search for journal articles. 
  • Pick a journal database and try some searches. The specific databases you use will depend on your subject. Fortunately, librarians have grouped the available databases by subject. Try a few different databases within your subject area.
    If you're having difficulty finding materials for your subject, there is help available to you! 

You're getting too many/too few results when you search:

One of the hardest parts about finding resources is figuring our which words to use when you search a journal database or the library catalog. Here a few tips and resources that can help:

  • Picking the right resource and/or database makes all the difference
    • Library databases cover specific subject areas, so looking for food science topics in a philosophy database can prove useless. Try some of the databases that are grouped by subject to make sure you're starting in the right place.
    • Databases can differ widely, so review the Help section to see if there are techniques specific to that database that you need to use. For example, medical/nursing databases have different subject headers that can be used to find resources.
  • Try using Boolean searching techniques to narrow or widen your results list. (See a tutorial)
  • If you find an article or book of interest, take a look at the subject headers used to catalog the book and see if there are other words there you can use. Additionally, don't forget to look at the references cited in the article. You may find some fantastic articles there you can use.

Evaluating Resources:

The Internet is a wonderful place filled with exciting material, but not all of it is suitable for use in your paper. Because ANYONE can publish content to the Internet, you have to be very careful about what resources you use. If you stick to library-provided resources, you can be assured that the information is high quality. Every now and then, however, you may need to find your own sources on the Internet. Here are some tools and guidelines for how you determine if they are suitable for your research.

Writing Your Paper:

Citing Your Sources:

The most important part of writing a research paper is to be sure to cite the sources you use properly. The library has many resources to help you learn how to cite your sources properly. It can be tricky to know how to cite some sources and this is why Madonna University provides a Writing Center to help you.

Additionally, most of the database products provided by the library will do the citation formatting for you, so you can quickly and easily cite sources in your paper. 

A Note About SafeAssign:

SafeAssign is a technology that is used to screen your paper for absent or improperly cited sources. You will get a report that indicates areas of your paper where there is suspected plagiarism. There are a few things you can do to make sure that you have best results possible from SafeAssign:

  • Don't forget to cite diagrams, tables, figures, photographs, and other non-text items you use from other sources.
  • When paraphrasing, don't just change a word or two. Summarize the passage in your own words.
  • Work with the Madonna University Writing Center to improve your writing skills to improve your score.
  • View the "SafeAssign Originality Reports" page to view a sample report and learn more about the process.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to Contact Us at the Library!

Good Luck!

Revised 11/2019