Research Help

This page contains helpful information and suggested tools to use during each step of the research process. Visit the links below for information on finding, evaluating, and using resources in your assignments. You will also find information on Working with a Reference Librarian.

The Research Process

Research is a multi-step undertaking that includes selection, exploration, collection, and presentation; for many of your assignments, you will need to use different resources and search strategies as you progress.


Choose an area of inquiry or research question to address.

  • Use HillSearch to find reference works and books that provide a broad overview of your topic.

  • Use popular search engines, such as Google, to explore your topic.


Use the information you obtain to narrow your focus or refine your research question. Often, your topic will change as you move from an initial topic into an exploration of the resources available on your topic. Choose particular resources you would like to search, and then identify possible search terms you will use to locate materials within those resources.

  • Use HillSearch to find print and electronic books, journal articles, primary sources, audio-visual materials, and government documents related to your topic.

  • Use WorldCat to search for items not held by MacPháidín Library and order materials using ILLiad, the library’s interlibrary loan system.

  • Use library class guides to access materials related specifically to your course. This is only available for some courses.

  • Use library subject guides to access disciplinary-specific resources.

  • Use GoogleScholar, to access materials in open access journals, free online collections, or GoogleBooks.

  • Evaluate those web-based materials for authority, accuracy, objectivity and currency.


Organize the resources you have collected, making sure you have all the necessary information to properly cite the resources you use.

  • RefWorks, an online tool, can help you to automatically compile your bibliography.

  • The Library’s Citation Guides give detailed instructions on different citation styles; use these if you are manually creating a bibliography or need to ensure your work is properly formatted. On the right-hand side of this link, you will see a drop down menu to select the different Citation Style Guides used in your courses.


  • Visit the College’s Writing Center for help with structuring your final research product.

  • Reference help is also available at the Reference Desk, by visiting us in person, calling 508.565.1203, texting us, or emailing us.

Research Assistance

If you need help at any point during your research process, or with any of the specific resources or research steps listed above, Librarians are here to assist you. We offer one-on-one research consultations, which you can book online through LibCal.