When you're just beginning to research a topic, you won't have all the necessary information to really get into it. You have to get a sense of the topic before you can decide what angle you'd like to take, what argument you'd like to make and where to get more, deeper, information.
Here's what to look for in your first round(s) of research:
What words are used to talk about the topic, its aspects and subtopics? Are any names of people, places or organizations mentioned? Add these terms to your search strategy.
Try to find some general background information about your topic from reference books (encyclopedias, Wikipedia, dictionaries, etc.). Once you understand the background, you can narrow in on one aspect of the topic that interests you. Make sure claims made in the information you find are properly cited or are verified by authoritative sources.
Good overview articles outline the sides of a dispute or describe the various, potentially conflicting beliefs those involved in the topic may hold. Use these controversies as a basis for reflecting on other sources you find. Consider the arguments, find other resources which weigh in, and then form your own opinion. Area of caution: if you think that an article about a controversial topic is not giving voice to both sides, it may represent bias. Opinions can be woven into the fabric of seemingly "factual" material - with any source, it is important to read with a skeptical eye and look for other resources from authorities you trust to back up what you find.
Good articles will have lots of citations to back up their claims. Use these citations to go deeper - find the articles/book and read them! The same goes for a list of references.
1st > Discovery Search
2nd > Other Libraries
2nd> Find Articles page of the Research Guide for your subject/topic
3rd> List of Subscription Databases
Choose your subject, click ALL to see all our databases, or search by database name.
4th> Google Scholar
1st > Library catalogue
Use Format settings to narrow to specific types of materials. The catalogue has streaming video as well as DVD, CD and more.
1st> Naxos Music
Streaming music collection with thousands of titles in classical and jazz.
2nd > Open Web
1st > Image Research Guide
2nd > Open Web: try Google Images, Flickr, Wikimedia Commons. Visit the Image Research Guide for more information.
3rd > Library Catalogue (WORD search: [subject] and "Illus")
1st > Word of mouth (ask people in the field)
2nd > Your instructor
(publication titles with links to periodical, not individual articles)
1st > Capilano U Journals, Magazines and Newspapers
Remember - even early in your research you MUST take good notes about what you read and where you read it.