Skip to Main Content

Library Research: How to Get Un-Stuck!

Library research is challenging! Here's help on how to get un-stuck when researching.

Getting and Staying Organized

Getting and Staying Organized

Here are some tips to save time when researching. If you are organized when you start the process it will save lots of time and hopefully you can avoid frustration later on! 

Read these tips or watch the video below.

colorful infographic including highlights from the text of the getting and staying organized content

Create a Google Doc or a Word document that you can save the following: notes, background information about your topic and citations.  Do this before you start searching for articles! 


Make notes as you are doing your research.  Save articles and citations for articles before you start writing your paper.  Also, save articles as you are searching even if you might not use them.  It's a lot easier to save an article when you see it then try to re-create a search in a library database later and try to find the article again.


Keep track of what keywords about your topic that you used when searching the library databases. For example, if my paper is about the types of sustainability efforts that airports are using to decrease harmful emissions, some of the searches might be:  sustainability AND airports, sustainability AND airports AND emissions. Some library databases also have a search history tool available. Why?  If you end up with few search results you can revise your search and save time by skipping through searches you've already done.


Build your reference or works cited page as you research.  Completing that part of research after you've written your paper can be very frustrating if you've not keep track of all your resources as you go. Take advantage of the cite or citation formatting tools on library research pages.  At the same time that you save a PDF of an article copy & paste the citation into a reference or works cited page.  If you don't end up using that article, you can just delete it.

Getting and Staying Organized Video

Getting and Staying Organized Video

In this video a librarian covers all the tips from the text above along with some examples.