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Basic Research

Research is a multistep process. The UMSL library provides many kinds of resources.


Clearly define your thesis statement. Trouble spots to look out for:

Too Broad - EXAMPLE: homelessness

  • Solution: add another concept to your topic which will narrow your thesis and make it more focused.
    EXAMPLE: homeless and veteran

Too Narrow - EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization AND "family income"

[NOTE: to search a phrase use quotes]

  • Solution: Remove one secondary concept from your thesis.
    EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization AND "family income"


Break down your thesis into concepts. Develop a list of synonyms.

EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization

Other terms for socialization could be interaction, acculturation, "social behavior" or "social development".
Combining different terms gives you different terms.


Library Staff - Find us in person or on the library home page. You can email, phone, chat live or walk into the building and ask us at the Public Service Desk. Look for the Ask a Librarian options or the link to Chat Now—both on the library home page--if you have a question.


Screenshot of Summon our library search tool.

On the results page, you can include or exclude types of publications, content, disciplines, subjects, etc. Look at the options on the left of your screen for ways to LIMIT YOUR SEARCH.

Full Text Online limits your search to articles full text in various databases or to links to full text in the catalog.

Scholarly & Peer-Reviewed Publications will provide materials that are scholarly in nature

CONTENT TYPE allows you to limit by the type of source.

PUBLICATION DATE allows you to limit material to a specific date or date range.

DISCIPLINE Depending on the focus of your research you may want to limit by field of study

SUBJECT TERMS will pull up a list allowing you to exclude subject headings or limit to more specific subject terms.

Retrieving Results

When looking at the results of a search here are some pointers.

  1. Click on the link to help evaluate the source; including an abstract in many instances.
  2. Look for the links Full-Text Online or Available Online. Clicking on these options will allow you to access the source on your screen.
  3. A physical book, which is available (not checked out), on Levels 1, 4, or 5 of the Thomas Jefferson Library, depending on the call number. Use the call number to find it on the shelf.
  4. Citation Online A couple of options: the Library may own the print but it is not available online, or this is a source that the UMSL Library does not own. In that case, and if you have time to wait, use the Submit an Interlibrary Loan Request option to request the item.

Summon Citations

Summon can help begin formatting your citations. 

• On the far right of your results list click on the folder icon that has a plus sign  ; this will place the citation into a folder.
• Once finished evaluating the results of your search click on the folder which is located at the top right of your screen. 

All the selected citations will be in the folder.
• Click on As shown on search results dropdown menu to choose the format option; EXAMPLES: MLA, APA, CHICAGO, etc.
• You can copy and paste, email, print, or, if available, export the resulting citations.
• Another option to format a single citation is to click on the quote icon  and use the dropdown menu to choose a format style. You can copy and paste or print the resulting citation.
• Always check your reference formatting for accuracy. Conclusion: Summon searches most, but not all of our resources. Use our specialized databases or consult with our Reference Librarians if you do not find what you need or for a more comprehensive search.

Summon searches most, but not all of our resources. Use our specialized databases or consult with our Reference Librarians if you do not find what you need or for a more comprehensive search.

Using Summon