Oftentimes, the most challenging part of any research project is getting started—choosing a topic, focusing that topic, and setting out a plan for completing the project in the time you have available. Key to getting your work off to a productive start is developing effective research questions and employing effective research strategies. The Search Tips & Tutorials on this page will assist you in learning about and fostering effective practices for beginning your research. Beginning Your Research—Reference/Background Sources links you to information that will help you through these early and very important steps in conducting your research. Reference or background sources, including general and subject encyclopedias, can give you concise overviews of topics, together with lists of sources for further reading.