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Research for International Students

The ways research is conceived, approved, conducted, and reported in the U.S. may differ from how it is done in other countries. This guide describes those processes and some of the context for them.

What is already known about your topic? Find and evaluate sources of information about your topic.

Plan Your Searches

What words or phrases might be helpful for finding information about your topic? Where will you look for that information? You can revise your search if you are not finding enough of what you want. You can also revise your search as you learn additional words or phrases that might be useful.

Use Suggested Starting Places

Librarians have created many guides for specific disciplines and courses. The guide will usually highlight good places to search for information on that topic.

Choose Your Language

English is the primary language the library's resources use. You can sometimes use other languages if they are more comfortable for you. Your options will depend on the database, journal, or website. 


Some databases, journals, and websites will let you change the language that they use on the page. Check for language settings in the main navigation options or in the tools sections on the site. Sometimes, you will need to set up a personal account to change the language settings. Your personal account will only work for that database, journal, or website. These settings do not affect the language of your search or the language of the results. If you are not sure if the language can be changed, ask a librarian for help.


Some databases, journals, and websites include content that is written in non-English languages. Books, articles, videos, and other materials will be in those languages. They will often be mixed in with content that is written in English. Many databases include an option to see only results that use a specific language. You can also try searching with words in specific languages.

Communication Method

You can listen to the content of some databases, journals, and websites instead of reading it. Check for an audio version or an audio icon. A small number of databases, journals, and websites include options to listen to an audio version of the page instead of reading it. You can sometimes download information in a format that is easier to translate too. Most videos include options to read captions, subtitles, and / or a transcript of the video.

Word Choices

Sometimes, using a different word that has a similar meaning affects what you find.

Use One Source to Find Another

You can use one article, book, presentation, or report to find other sources on your topic. Examine:

  • The sources the authors used. (Reference List, Citations in the article.)
  • Newer articles that cite the article you like. ("Cited by" tools in some databases and search engines.)
  • Articles that cite many of the same sources. ("Similar articles" / "Related articles" tools in some databases and search engines.)
  • Other words or phrases you can use in your searches. (Words or phrases the authors use in the article, book, presentation, or report. Subject headings or keywords listed for the article.)
  • Other articles, books, or presentations by the author(s).(Search for an author to find anything else they have published on your topic.)
  • Datasets identified in the article, book, presentation, or report. (Check if those datasets are freely available or if there is a way to request access to them.)
  • Funding sources for the study in your article, book, presentation, or report. (Search for the name of the grant or for the organization that sponsored the research.)

Get Help

Contact your librarian for help. They can meet with you in person, over the phone, through email, or online. They can suggest other places to search. They can help you refine your search strategy. They can answer your questions.

Ask your professor or advisor for help. They have done a lot of research and are familiar with how to find sources in your discipline.


Borrow from Other Libraries

While MCPHS has many articles and books, you may need something we do not have. Fill out the library's Interlibrary Loan form to check if the library can get that article or book for you.

You might also be able to visit a library near you to get the book or article you want. Check that library's policies.

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