Skip to Main Content
PolyU Library

ELC1012/ELC1013 - English for University Studies

Faculty Librarians

Faculty Librarians are designated librarians for your faculty, who can offer specialized help on your course assignment and research project. Make an appointment with your Faculty Librarian for in-depth assistance!

Need Help? Contact Us!

By Phone 2766-6863
WhatsApp 2766-6863 (service hours)
Online Enquiry Online Form
Information Consultancy Service Contact your Faculty Librarians on in-depth research questions

Where to Start?

You can start by reading background information on your topic and developing your terminology around the topic. 

Research Questions to Your Conclusion

Full Video: 00:43


Overview of the research gathering process used to support a thesis or hypothesis. Includes questions students may ask to draw conclusions based on their research findings.

1. From Reference Works

Reference works include Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Handbooks. They provide authoritative summary information on a field or subject.

Reading articles published in reference works help you: 

  • Understand the key issues, history, and sometimes, latest debates on a topic without going through dozens of books, journal articles, and other materials.
  • Develop a mind map on a topic and learn keywords and terminologies for further research. 


Useful Reference Works Resources:

Below are some recommended sources where you can find reference works. Try searching your topic in any of these sources and see if you can find any interesting articles and further expand your terminology.

Credo Reference helps you find short articles on a topic from thousands of reference books in different disciplines. It's the scholarly version of Wikipedia.

Here you can see an example. After searching the topic, we got a few articles (and sometimes a mind map too) related to the topic.

Credo Reference

SAGE Knowledge is another database to find published reference works. If you wish to explore a topic in more details, you can read more from these handbooks and encyclopedia articles.

Sage knowledge 

OneSearch is library's search engine where you can find almost everything the Library has including books, journals, DVDs. You can use OneSearch to search the reference works too. Run a search on your topic and limit by "Reference Entries". Clicking on the search result will bring you to the article published in reference works.

Find Reference entries in OneSearch

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia. It's a great tool to help you quickly get an overview of a topic and understand the key issues or latest debates.

Sometimes students may come up with this question:

Should I use Wikipedia for research?

The short answer is, yes you can. However, you need to:

  • Remember that Wikipedia is a wiki where anyone can edit, delete or add false information.
  • Always check the source and cite the original sources.
  • Use information from credible sources, e.g.scholarly journals, government websites, professional associations, reputable online newspapers, etc.

Below is a snapshot of an Wikipedia article's reference list, with a few creditable sources highlighted.

cite the original sources

2. From News & Information Around You

You will be given a research topic for your assignment. Try searching the topic on Google and check the result list - you may see entries from newspapers, Wikipedia or other sources

At this stage, you can do 3 things:

  1. First, try to collect some keywords from the search results (e.g. Google Search results). 
  2. Read 2-3 articles from the top results (e.g. News articles or Wikipedia articles) to understand more about the topic. Continue to collect keywords from the articles.
  3. While reading, think of other related terms and try to develop your terminology around the topic.

Useful News Resources:

If you wish to find more news articles on a topic, you can use these Library-subscribed news databases.


Let's say the topic of your assignment is "hotel industry". You are interested to learn if there are any hotel industry studies related to COVID.

You can google the terms and collect some keywords directly from search results. You can also explore some news articles and Wikipedia entries to further develop your terminology. Here are some examples:

From search results: Keywords collected:

  • Covid
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Hotel Industry
  • Hospitality
From a News article: Expand the keyword list:


  • Covid
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Pandemic
  • Hotel Industry
  • Hospitality
  • Leisure
  • Tourism
From a Wikipedia entry: Expand the keyword list:


  • Covid
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Pandemic
  • Hotel Industry
  • Hospitality
  • Leisure
  • Tourism
  • Travel restrictions


Tips for Developing Terminology:

You can use a mind map to jot down and structure the keywords you have collected. Simply draw on a piece of paper, or use an online tool such as Whimsical, Miro, MindMeister or XMind.