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Information Literacy Tutorial: 1. Getting Started

Starting Your Assignment - Without Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to begin? Watch these short videos.

Understanding Your Assignment

Read your assignment carefully!
When you receive your assignment, the first thing you should do is read it carefully. Make sure that you understand what your professor expects. Try to put the assignment into your own words to ensure that you understand. If you have any questions, ask your professor! This will save you time and stress in the long run.

When is your assignment due? Research is an exploratory process. Give yourself time to refine and finish your assignment!

What types of resources are required?
What resources are you required to use for your assignment? Books, scholarly journals, videos, images, online resources, and/or primary sources? Where can you find these resources? This tutorial is designed to show you how and where to find these resources.

What style/format should you use?
What citation style/format has your professor required for the paper and bibliography (also called works cited or references)? APA, MLA, Chicago? You're going to learn more in step 6.


Managing Your Time

Hour Glass Image

  Tools to help you manage the research process

Selecting Your Topic - And Narrowing It

Start your research by selecting a topic, (if your professor has not assigned one).

The library has resources to help you get background information on different topics. 

Creating Your Research Question


Once you have selected a topic, you must clearly define the research question. 

  • A research question provides focus for your topic. 
  • Research questions answer the what, why, where and how.
  • Research questions look at the cause and effect of something (e.g., impacts, influences, results.)


Here are some Examples:


Research Question


Who should discipline bullying in professional sports?

Affirmative Action

What role does affirmative action play in assuring fairness in job hiring?

DNA Evidence

How is DNA evidence used in court cases to convict or exonerate suspects of violent crimes?

Role of the Automobile

How did the automobile effect the rapid growth of suburbs?

Urban Poverty

How will raising the minimum wage to $15 effect employees in Los Angeles?

Whale Hunting

Will banning whale hunting remove them from the endangered species list?

  Remember to keep an open mind while researching and look for gaps in current research areas you can fill.


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John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300