Academic Writing and Research

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Welcome to the academic writing and research tools guide! This guide points you to helpful resources for tackling academic research and writing projects. Resources are organized according to steps in the research process. 

  • The first tab, getting started, provides resources for getting started with your project. 

  • The next tab, finding resources, points you to all the resources available through the library. 

  • The next tab, writing tools, points you to various websites, books, and tools that are about writing a research paper. 

  • The last tab, avoiding plagiarism, is about academic integrity and properly citing your sources.

Getting Started

Tips for starting your research project: 

  • Understand the assignment: make sure you read through your assignment a few times to make sure you know what is expected of you. Ask your professor any questions you have that might help clarify the assignment.

  • Pick a topic: Sometimes your topic may be chosen for you, but other times you’ll have to create your own topic or choose from a few options. If you get to choose, try to find a topic that interests you and that is likely to have many sources. 

  • Refine your topic: Once you have picked a topic, you may need to narrow it down or make it more broad. It could help to do some preliminary searching to see what kind of literature is out there related to your topic. Then you can use what you find to adapt your topic. 

Finding Sources

The library has many tools available to help you find scholarly resources for use in your paper! 

  • A Discovery search in the library’s main search bar will bring results from all of our databases.

  • Our databases page lists all our databases individually, so you can select a single database to search if you want to narrow down your search (for example, if you are doing research on the Bible, you could search only the Atla Religion Database). 

Finding Peer Reviewed Articles

Often your professors will request that you use “peer reviewed articles,” which are academic articles that have been read and approved by experts in the field. You can use the library’s databases to limit your results to only peer reviewed resources. 

Step One: Perform a search

  • You can start from the library website at

  • At the top of the page, there is a search bar that says "Search library resources for..."

  • Type your keywords into the search bar and a combination of results from most library databases and our physical collection will come up

library home page

Step Two: Refine your results

  • Now, you need to narrow down your results since you are only looking for authoritative scholarly articles

  • On the left side of the screen, there is a sidebar with ways to limit your search:library search page with Refine Results highlighted in a red box


  • Under Source Types, check the box next to Academic Journals to limit your search to journal articles:

search limiters for source type with an arrow pointing out academic journals

  • Under Limit To, click on the link that says "Show More":

show more limiters under limit to

  • This will bring up a window with more search options. Check the box that says "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals", then click the yellow "Search" button at the top right of the window:

checkbox to select only peer reviewed journals

  • Now your search results are limited to articles from academic, peer-reviewed journals.

Using Filters

There are other filters you can use once you complete a search. Here are a few especially useful ones to highlight:

  • “Online full text or in campus collection” means that results are all either print books or online materials available to read the entire article or book through library subscriptions. Unchecking this box will bring back more results, but you will have to request some of them through interlibrary loan.

  • “Filter by Subject” can help you narrow your search to items related to your field.

  • “Source Types” will help you find specific formats, like ebooks or journal articles.

Evaluating Sources:

For help deciding if the sources you’re finding are high quality, check out out our Evaluating Journal Articles Research Guide. 


Online Tutoring Resources
  • (through the public library) - If you are a local student, the Forsyth County Public Libraries provides free access to online tutoring. Sign up for a library card to get started with tutoring. If you are a distance student, see if your local public library offers any online tutoring services. 

  • Udemy (through the public library) - Forsyth County Public Library also provides Udemy, an online homework help platform. You can use the same library card information you use for to access Udemy.
Web-Based Grammar Check Tools
  • Grammarly - Grammarly is a tool that the University subscribes to that actually tracks what you are writing and helps you correct grammatical errors as you write. Install it on your browser to get live writing help. 

  • Turnitin - Like Grammarly, Turnitiin can offer grammar checks on your papers. It’s automatically added as a Google Docs Add-On to your university account.

Citing Sources

It is very important to always cite your sources. Using someone else’s ideas without giving them credit is a serious offense and is a violation of the Carolina Unviersity Academic Integrity Policy.

To avoid plagiarism - stealing someone else’s ideas - make sure you cite all your sources using in-text citations and end references. You’ll need to make sure you are using the proper citation style. Here are the most common citation styles and links to websites where you can find examples of the styles. 

Other Sources on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity & Tools for Avoiding Plagiarism

These websites give more examples of how to avoid plagiarism and tips for citing sources: 

These web-based tools provided by the University can help you check your papers for plagiarism:

  • Grammarly: One of the tools Grammarly offers is a plagiarism checker 

  • Turnitin: Also provides a similarity check that will flag possible plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial

Carolina University Academic Integrity Video