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Term Paper Strategy
1. Choose your topic

Possible sources of topics:

Let your own interest guide your choices as much as possible. It is so much easier to write a paper on a topic of interest to you.

2. Read a brief introduction to the topic in an encyclopedia, such as:

REF AE 5 .E363
Encyclopedia Britannica

REF AE 5 .E333
Encyclopedia Americana

REF BF 31 .E52
Encyclopedia of Psychology

REF Q 12 .M3
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia Of Science and Technology (Access Science)

REF Q 121 .V 3
VanNostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia

REF QE 5 .M29
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of the Geological Sciences

There are many more encyclopedias, and a librarian can help you identify others in your subject area. Use the index, or look at the subject headings/keywords to find other terms you can use for your research.

3. Read the bibliography at the end of the articles/books you find. We may have some of the references. 

4. Check the library catalog and MaineCat for books and other materials. You can search by subject using terms from the Library of Congress Subject Headings located next to the printer (these list the standard words used by libraries to classify books), or do word searches (much broader). Be creative and exercise critical thinking: you may need or want to broaden or narrow the scope of your search.

5. Magazines, journals and other periodicals will have the most recent information on your topic. Journal indexes allow you to pinpoint specific publications and the articles within them by volume, number, and page. Be flexible and willing to try different search terms to obtain relevant results.

The most current indexes are accessible online. The older paper indexes, shelved in the basement, are useful for historical perspectives on a topic. Here are a few printed indexes to try.

For current journal articles/indexes on a topic, look at databases by subject. Some even provide the full text of the article.

Once you have identified some useful articles, check to see if the full text is available or if you need to use interlibrary loan.

7. Writing the Paper

Style manuals explain the mechanics of paper writing; your professor may recommend a particular one. Some of the titles we have are:

Here is an excellent citation guide put together by Purdue University. There are many others available on the web.

8. Ask us when you need help or suggestions. Don't waste your time spending three hours trying to accomplish what you thought was an easy task. We are here to help and happy to provide assistance.


Nutting Memorial Library, Maine Maritime Academy, Box C-1, Pleasant Street, Castine, ME 04420 (207) 326-2263

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