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Thesis Information for Philosophy Students: Research

Research / Note Taking

Begin your research as soon as your topic has been okayed by your advisor
This can’t be emphasized enough: Depending on your topic you may need to do a significant amount of research. This could include the analysis/deconstruction of a text and/or collecting, reading, collating, etc., what other scholars have said about your topic. Remember that you will need to set time aside to engage these sources.

Get to know the library and its website
Make yourself familiar with the library’s resources. Make use of GIL-Express and Interlibrary Loan. While the library has a large number of books and journals, it may not have the specific ones you need. Contact your subject librarian if you need help locating and requesting sources from other libraries. 

Get to know your Department librarian
The librarian assigned to the Department of Philosophy can help you with your research, track down hard-to-find information, and teach you how to use the library’s resources. Utilize the knowledge of the  other subject librarians if your topic falls under additional subject areas or disciplines (e.g., women’s studies, psychology, sociology, etc.).

Establish a note-taking system
Whatever system works for you, do it and keep doing it. As the amount of material you gather increases, and you have to bring it all together, coherent notes will help a great deal.

Build your bibliography throughout / Cite as you write
Don’t wait until you are finished writing to pull your bibliography together. Depending on how many sources you’ll be using, the best strategy is to gradually build your bibliography as you research and write.

Use citation/bibliographic management software
Citation software keeps track of the resources you’ve used, formats citations into the correct style (MLA, Chicago, etc.) and inserts footnotes and bibliographic info into the text of your thesis.  The library provides free downloads of the following citation software:

For help in using EndNote and Zotero:


Zotero is a free, easy-to-use, open source tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. Originally created to work only with the Firefox browser, it can now be used with Chrome, Safari, and Opera (with the appropriate connector).

See the library's Zotero information page for help and useful tips. For additional information, see the Zotero website.


EndNote is a program for managing bibliographic citations. It can automate much of the work of organizing and formatting citations and bibliographies in your writing. EndNote can connect to online sources such as GIL and article databases, output results in over 1,000 different bibliographic styles, and more.

Please see the library's EndNote information page for information on how to download and use the software.

Don't want to download the software? Use EndNoteWeb, the Web-based version that allows you to access your citations from any computer, any where, any time. .