Von Canon Library Von Canon Library

Resource Guide:
Research Process

Stage 1: What information do you need?

  • Start Early, Consider Asking a Librarian for Help
    • Visit the Library’s Ask a Librarian Desk 
    • Email a Librarian at  
    • Call a Librarian at 540-261-4084
  • Find Background Information (Overview of  Topic, Basic Definitions)
  • Narrow Your Topic, Articulate a Tentative Thesis

Stage 2: What information is available?

  • Find Books      
    The Library Catalog is the place to start if you are looking for books in our collection. Resource guides highlight specific books that might be helpful. You can also search other local library catalogs or the WorldCat database for books in libraries throughout the world. Our Inter-Library Loan page describes how to request books that are not available in our library.

  • Find Articles      
    The library’s databases contain millions of articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers. If you have an article citation but don’t know if we have its full text, try searching on our journals page. If the full text of an article is not available through our databases, you can request it through interlibrary loan
    Other helpful resources include: 

    • Resource Guides: Topical guides featuring books, databases, and web links.
    • Databases: Complete list of databases, alphabetically and by discipline.
    • Local Libraries: Search for articles at W&L, VMI, and the public library.
  • Find Full-Text Articles
  • Find Media 
    • Search the Library Catalog for DVDs, CDs, and other physical media.
    • Consult the library’s Visual Research Guide
    • Use Camio to access 95,000 high resolution art images
    • Use Naxos Music Library to access over 1,300,000 streaming music files.
  •  Find Web-Based Resources (Organizations, Archives, Collections, etc.)

Stage 3: What information is most important?

Stage 4: Revise your thesis, and outline your argument

Stage 5: Document your sources (using correct Citation Style)

Stage 6: Get a second opinion

Consult with a Professor, or a Librarian.