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Getting Started With Your Paper / Project

Tips from UMSL's Reference Librarians on researching papers and projects.

Subject Guides

I need resources for __________ subject.

UMSL Libraries has prepared online research guides that have links and guidance for finding article databases, books, primary sources, etc. related to specific subject areas.  These guides are an excellent starting point for this stage of your research.

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Where to look next?

The bulk of your research may require sources such as journal articlesacademic book chapters, or primary sources.

Your professor may require using a certain amount of a specific source (e.g., 5 peer-reviewed journal articles), or leave it up to you.  Scroll down for advice on finding different types of materials!  If you get stuck in your search, please contact the library for help.

Finding Materials: Resources


Discover@UMSL is the library's general search tool, available on the main page of the library website. It allows you to search across our print and online materials as well as many online databases in one convenient place. Your results will include print and e-books, book chapters, journal and newspaper articles, and more. Use the filters on the left side of the results screen to narrow your results by source type, peer review, and more!

Visit our Guide to Discover@UMSL for more details on using this search tool!



You can find and access online articles/journals using Discover@UMSL as well as subject-specific databases.  Discover@UMSL will also allow you to search for journals we carry in print.

  • Library Databases
    • A complete list of databases to which the library provides access.  Search by name, subject, or content type.
  • Subject Guides
    • Online research guides prepared by UMSL librarians for each subject area.  These guides usually link a selection of databases that are appropriate for your subject.
  • Journals by Title
    • Best if you already know the name of the journal you are looking for, or would like to browse a very general subject area.

You can also find great sources by searching in a multidisciplinary database (offers resources for more than one subject area).  Some suggestions are linked below.

In addition to using Discover@UMSL, you can find library books by:

  • Looking in the Databases A-Z list for e-book collections (use the second drop-down menu to filter)
  • Browse the library in person
    • Books are organized using the Library of Congress system (to explore, see the LOC Outline).  Books about similar topics will be shelved together.
    • Have a call number, but not sure where to start looking?  See the library floor plan.
  • Search using the MOBIUS catalog. MOBIUS books are free to request.

Did you know...?

Books at other libraries are free to request!  If you're looking for something you can't find at UMSL or through MOBIUS, fill out an interlibrary loan form (individual book chapters are also eligible). You will receive a notice to your UMSL email address when your book is ready for pickup at the TJ Library front desk.

Thomas Jefferson Library and the Mercantile Library hold a variety of materials useful as primary sources for research on St. Louis/Missouri history as well as waterway and railroad transportation.

The Library also subscribes to databases that offer digital access to sources such as photographs and other artwork, newspapers, government documents, etc.  Many are also available for free online!  The resources below should help you navigate these options.  If you have questions or get stuck, please contact the library!