Research Consultations: What Are They?

Posted Feb 14, 2024

You may have seen or heard the term “Research Consultations” any number of places—on our website, on our social media, from a librarian visiting your class, etc. We love to talk them up. But, it can be tough to reach out for a consultation if you don’t have a clear idea of what you can accomplish in that meeting.  

Thankfully, you don’t have to have it all figured out. A Research Consultation can be all about helping you figure out what you need in order to make progress on your research project. You can ask questions about the type of assignment, about your research topic and whether you might be able to find enough sources on it, or about any research terminology (like qualitative and quantitative, annotations, peer-reviewed, etc.) that you’re not clear on. The librarian can ask you some questions to help you talk through your best next steps.  

If you’re in this stage, just reach out and tell us you want to talk to a librarian about your project. Please describe the project a bit so we can prepare, too. 

If you like to make a specific plan, here’s a list of some discussion topics you can ask to cover in a Research Consultation: 

  • Searching for a starting point; for example, you may have to write about a composer from a specific era. We can help you find options for composers to select and introduce you to the types of sources you might use for any composer you select. 
  • Finding options for individual articles or books (or videos, lesson plans, etc.) on a broad topic.  
  • Looking for materials connected to a specific, detailed research question. A librarian can help you dig deeper into our available resources and work out some strategies for you to use when you’re searching resources on your own. 
  • How to find journals and publications relevant to your research. 
  • Strategies for selecting trustworthy or relevant resources. 
  • Strategies for finding one specific author’s work and how others have discussed their work. 
  • PICOT for clinical research questions. 
  • How to distinguish different types of articles (case study, literature review, randomized clinical trial, literary analysis, etc.) 
  • How to find unique, historical, or archival materials that may not be stored directly in our collections (i.e. a historical figure’s letters, old maps, posters and photographs, sound recordings).  
  • Keeping track of your sources, finding citation and style guides, and using citation tools like Zotero. 

Overall, you can think of a Research Consultation like a coaching session for executing your research, or as a specialized tour of the resources relevant to you. 

Typically, you’ll schedule a Research Consultation with the librarian assigned to your major or the area of study relevant to your project. If you’re unsure who to meet with, email us a or fill out the online form and select “No Preference” under the Preferred Librarian section. We’ll connect you with someone who can help!