Research FAQ

A list of common questions that emerge when beginning a research assignment!

I do not know where to begin. Where do I even start in the research process?

The go/guides link shows all useful resources for each subject. This helps out with research if you are unsure of where to begin. In other cases, Summon may be best! Research some general ideas, and see what pops up. This will help you start. You can also always ask a librarian or a peer writing tutor for help!

I have found a topic. Where can I find background information on my subject?

You can use the go/guides link to find encyclopedias for each department under the “reference sources” tab. These are great references when conducting research. Librarians can always give you more advice on finding background information as well.

Summon gave me two million results when I tried researching my topic. What do I do?

Summon is a great resource that lets you search across most of Middlebury’s catalogue and databases. That being said, you often need to narrow your search. You can do so by narrowing your search on the left sidebar to make restrictions by subject, date, type, etc. If that does not work, try doing an advanced search by going to go/summon and clicking the downward arrow in the search bar. Another useful tip to focus your search is by visiting go/summon and clicking on “Help” in the top right-hand corner. There, Summon explains all its tricks that can help narrow your search. A librarian can always help you with this if you are still confused.

How do I narrow my search to just journal articles/MIDCAT/videos/etc.?

If you want to search specifically under a particular databases, check out go/lib. There, you can look solely in reserves, videos, MIDCAT, journals, or databases. You can also narrow your search in Summon on the left-hand side of the results page or consult the various tabs of the research guides (go/guides).

Middlebury College does not have the book/article/video/etc. I need in its collections! How can I get what I need?

Need not fear! You can get books, articles, and other resources not owned by Middlebury College from other libraries.

  • Interlibrary Loan (go/illiad/), allows you to request books and articles from around the world. Check out WorldCat (go/worldcat/) to find what you need. In WorldCat, click on the "Request item through Interlibrary Loan" button to request your source through ILLiad.
I have found one useful book for my research project at Middlebury College, but I am struggling to find other good resources. What should I do?

Try looking at the call number of something related to your topic. Then, check out that area of Middlebury’s library and scroll through the shelves. You will almost surely find numerous valuable items for your research. It is also very helpful to look through the bibliography of a useful book. That will often lead you to other good sources. You can also always visit the Research Desk or ask the librarian who specializes in your subject.

I have found something that Middlebury does not have in its collection. I think it would be valuable for the college to purchase. How do I have my voice heard?

If you believe you have found something Middlebury should purchase, go to go/lib and select “Suggestions and Purchases.” There, you can make a purchase suggestion (go/request). If you need it immediately, try using NExpress or ILLiad.

I have my sources. How do I cite them?

Manuals of style (MLA, APA, Turabian, etc.) for specific disciplines can be found either online at go/citations or at the Research Desk. Librarians help with citations all the time; ask them for advice if in doubt!

Which style should I use when citing my sources?

Professors will generally specify what citation style they expect. You should always ask if unclear. If you find yourself unable to ask the professor before the assignment is due, you can find a general guide of which department uses which citation style at go/citations.

Why do I cite? When do I cite? What happens if I do not cite?

All questions have answers that can be found at go/whycite. This link explains the importance of why we cite, the consequences of plagiarism, and how we know exactly when to cite.

What citation tools are out there that I can use?

Go/citations has links to various citation tools that can help you save, organize, and create tabs for your research. This includes instructions on how to download the very helpful research tool Zotero!

Are there other resources out there for citations at my disposal?

Yes, there are! This can be found at go/otherresources. There, you can find helpful links such as OWL at Purdue University.

Which librarian works with my department?

Go/guides shows which librarians are assigned to which departments. If you have any questions concerning your research, you can always contact the librarian for the department.

How do I contact a librarian?

Librarians are always more than willing to help students with research. Use go/askus to find the numerous different ways to contact a librarian. You can also look under “Ask a Midd Librarian” on go/askus. There, you can decide whether you want to:

  • Chat online
  • Meet in person
  • Email researchdesk@middlebury.edu (sent to all 10 librarians)
  • Text 66746 (start your question with the word “midd”)
  • Call 802.443.5496 (or 802.443.5799 for Armstrong)
What is this famed “Research Desk” I keep hearing about?

You can often meet with a librarian at the Research Desk in Davis Family Library without appointment. If you cannot find the desk, ask someone at the Circulation Desk. Or you can enter the library, take a right, and walk towards the computers. There, you will see a research librarian at the desk, eager to help!