Barnard Personal Librarians are available for research help, citation guidance, questions on accessing items, or any other library related questions. You can meet with us in-person or on Zoom. Click the button below to schedule a consultation (or click this link)
Get help from a Librarian! Columbia Libraries host an instant message chat help service, normally available Monday through Friday 10am-5pm, with some evening help.
If after hours, schedule a research consultation for reference help.
|Erin Anthony||Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Neuroscience and Behavior, Physical Education, Physics and Astronomy, and Psychology|
|Jennie Correia||Economics, Human Rights, Political Science, Sociology, and Urban Studies|
|Jenna Freedman||Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, Zines|
|Gina Levitan||American Studies (with Vani Natarajan), Classics & Ancient Studies, Education, German, History, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Philosophy, Religion, and Slavic Studies|
|Vani Natarajan||Africana Studies, American Studies (with Gina Levitan), Anthropology, Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures, Comparative Literature, English, French, Italian, Jewish Studies, and Spanish and Latin American Cultures|
|Meredith Wisner||Architecture, Art (studio), Art History, Dance, Film Studies, Music, and Theater|
|Incoming Students, last names A-C||Jennie Correia|
|Incoming Students, last names D-I||Gina Levitan|
|Incoming Students, last names J-N||Erin Anthony|
|Incoming Students, last names O-S||Meredith Wisner|
|Incoming Students, last names T-Z||Vani Natarajan|
If you were assigned a PL last year, your personal librarian hasn’t changed! And all are welcome to continue reaching out to the librarian(s) they wish.
Welcome! This page supports research for First-Year Writing, Modernity
If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation with your personal librarian.
Professor: Andrew Lynn
Choosing a topic often feels like an impossible first step, so it is best to keep your topic ideas broad, and then begin honing in on your research question as you encounter research materials. There is no correct way to do research, but the following guidelines might be useful to keep in mind as you begin:
After gathering your background information, refine your initial topic and question based off of what you learned. A good rule of thumb: if there is an entire book on your topic, it is too broad for a research paper. On the other hand, if the topic can be discussed in a few paragraphs, then it is too narrow.
Example: "The role of women in the plays of Shakespeare" is too broad because hundreds of books and articles have been written on this topic; "The symbolism of Ariel's costume in the Tempest" is likely too narrow because there are not enough books and articles discussing this specific detail.
Remember, don't worry if refining your topic happens more than once!
Keywords are terms that describe the topic you are researching. Keywords can be a people, places, things, ideas, or concepts. We need keywords to effectively search in library academic databases (like CLIO or Jstor). Unlike internet browsers, which have developed to understand full questions written in natural language, academic databases use keywords to locate resources.
There are no perfect searches when using keywords, which is why it's useful to brainstorm lots of related terms and/or synonyms to locate what you are looking for. For example, we might use the word "teenager" to describe a particular population, but the term "youth" might be used in a database instead. You can also find new keywords once you begin searching in the content section and subject sections of a catalog entry.