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Course & Subject Guides

Library Research Help @ Pitt

This guide will help you with your research paper or project.

Choose a topic: Understand your assignment parameters, requirements, and due dates.

  • Choose something you are interested in.

  • Start from the assignment due date and work your way back. Think about the time you will need for research, writing, editing, and allow time for questions that may arise.

  • Keep in mind your topic may change as you research and write.

  • Pick a few topics you want to explore further and then find background information and refine your topic to see if you want to continue down that path. If not, try out a different topic until you find one you like.


Conduct Background Research: Search for news articles, top hits on Google, and encyclopedia articles.

Google Tips and Tricks:

  1. Search for specific file types
  2. You can limit Google searches to particular files such as PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. This can be helpful when looking for reports, particularly by professional associations, organizations, and governments.

    Type in Google your search terms + filetype:ppt. Example search: nanotechnology market filetype:pdf

  3. Search for specific domains
  4. You can also limit results to sites with specific domains, such as .org, .edu, .mil, or .gov.

    Type in Google your search terms + Example search: nanotechnology market

  5. Search for other country's versions of Google
  6. When you search, you are searching the U.S.'s version of Google. If you know the top-level country code domain for other countries, you can search their version of Keep in mind that this will not necessarily change the language of the results you see, but will show you results Google thinks are more relevant to those in that country. This can be helpful when doing international research.

    Example: Go to (Germany's version). Search for government privacy.

Refine your Topic: Narrow down what you want to investigate. Think about the who, what, when, where, and why for your topic.



Create a Research Question: Come up with a tentative question you want to answer in your project.

Creating a research question will take your refined topic and turn it into a question your assignment will attempt to answer. Examples of research questions include:

  • What causes incorrect information to spread on social media?
  • How can we be informed social media users?

This will help keep you focused as you begin searching for information

Open Lab @ Hillman

In Spring 2018, the University Library System is partnering with the Center for Teaching and Learning on Open Lab @ Hillman, a collaboration focused on media making and production. This semester, we are offering drop-in consultation hours on 360 degree video.

On each Monday from 5-7pm, come by the computer lab in the Digital Scholarship Commons to play with 360 degree video or to get help with a specific question. You can experiment with Adobe Premiere Pro, Garmin Virb Edit, YouTube 360, Cardboard viewers, and other 360 videos like New York Times Daily 360 during drop-in hours. Reserve a block of time at the Open Lab @ Hillman.



For full 360 video production training and access to equipment, please register for Open Lab @ Hillman's monthly 360 Production Workshops, held every first Wednesday this spring term.