The Research Process

Keeping Track of Sources

Through the process of research, it is easy to get lost in a sea of information. Here are some tips and tools that you can use throughout the stages of your research process to keep sources organized.

Always keep a working digital  bibliography of the sources that you are considering or using. If you construct your Works Cited as you go along, you will save yourself a lot of time.

As you find articles, keep them! Here are some ways that you can store articles that you find:

  1. Create a Google Doc or a Word file to keep track of the sources that you want to read. Copy and paste the full citation (many databases, like Academic Search Complete, create a Works Cited reference for you). Or, if you are using a source that you found via google, copy and paste the URL of the source (it will need to be cited properly by author name, article title, source, etc. if you use it in a paper).
  2. Import sources that you may want to use to Zotero, a free software tool that you can download to store, cite and organize potential sources.
  3. If you are searching in Academic Search Complete, Create a “Folder” in Academic Search Complete to save the articles that look interesting
  4. Emailing hyperlinks of web sources to yourself often seems like the easiest idea. However, be aware that if you email URLs of articles that you find in the library’s research databases, they will not open if you are not logged in to CSU’s library. Instead, email the citation (with article title, author name) to yourself so that you can go back and find the article later.
  5. Print. If you find an article that you are fairly sure will be useful, go ahead and print it out. You may want to have a folder dedicated to your research project where you keep print outs of all the articles you plan to use. You will end up saving yourself time if you add the Works Cited info in with all of your other sources.