How to Get Started with Online Research

Whether you’re researching a topic for a paper, writing an article that needs academic sources or just looking to learn more about something you’re interested in, the library has plenty of tools. 

The first step is to ask yourself why you are conducting research. What is your main goal? What do you hope to find? Use the menu below to find suggestions for the best tools to meet your unique research needs.

Find information for a personal or professional project

If you are seeking general information about a topic, process or products, one of these tools may help:

  • Ancestry Library Edition: Learn about your family tree by searching billions of records through Census data, vital records, immigration records, family histories, military records, photos, maps, and more, all from the comfort of your own home.
  • The New Jersey Room at the Burlington County Library contains an extensive microfilm collection and newspaper index, an extensive genealogical collection, history books, and more! 
  • Consumer Reports: Can help find the best products and services for your money. Compare and contrast everything from air conditioners to brands of yogurt and get the best bang for your buck.
  • Divorce in New Jersey: This step-by-step guide walks through the divorce process and helps you find, fill out and file forms at your own pace.
  • Foundation Directory Online: Find funding and grants that fit your needs and provide you with the skills to apply for them. Ideal for nonprofit organizations. 
  • Reference Solutions: Offers company profiles, job listings and informative webinars geared toward businesses and entrepreneurs. 
  • Value Line: Guides through the world of financial investing with tailored data, tools, predictions and expert guidance.

Learn a new skill

If you want to learn something new—or dust off an old skill— these resources that can teach you everything from world languages to painting.

  • Pronunciator: A fun and free way to learn any of 163 languages with self-directed lessons, live teachers, movies, music, and more. Learn online, at your pace and schedule! 

  • Udemy: Home to over 6,000 courses in 75 different categories, from personal development to tech. Bonus: a robust international collection, featuring courses taught by native Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Japanese speakers.

Explore information about scientific, historical or literary subjects

Maybe you’re interested in science and the humanities. These tools will help you find information from all sources, both scholarly and casual.

  • EBSCOhost: Search databases, journals and magazines. Start with a broad search term and explore, or narrow your search to something specific.
  • Literary Reference Centerguide to great works of literature and their authors. Explore novels, reference works and literary journals through plot summaries, poems, book reviews and more.
  • Science Online: Explore scientific discoveries, experiments and scientists of all disciplines in-depth through lessons and videos, supplemented by definitions, essays, diagrams, biographies and experiments.

Research for a paper or academic project

You found a topic for your term paper or senior thesis. Great! Now, let’s help you find some sources so you can get to writing. 

  • ExploraNavigate different areas of research by selecting a topic, like current events, and browse its alphabetized subheadings. Ideal for students.
  • EBSCOhostSearch databases, journals and magazines. Start with a broad search term and explore, or narrow your search to something specific.
  • The New York Times: The ultimate source for current events and global news. Coverage ranges from sports and the arts to business, politics and so much more.
  • Burlington County Times: Offers all the latest news about New Jersey’s largest county. Browse through the archives for added insight.