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This guide supports students developing research skills.


Welcome! This guide is designed to help build your foundational understanding of key concepts and tools for the nuts-and-bolts practice of searching STEM literature. It provides background information for my in-class presentation, and it will help you get started on your poster assignment. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about this guide, its content, or library collections or services in general.

After I visit your class, poster teams will schedule appointments for research consultations with me so that we can discuss your poster topics in depth. You can use the "Schedule Appointment" button in the left column to select an appointment time convenient for your team members. If you cannot find an appointment time that works for your team, send me an email ( and I'll do my best to accommodate you. However, appointments are subject to availability, so I'd recommend not waiting until your assignment deadline is approaching. 

-- Holly Surbaugh, Your Engineering Librarian

What is a research consultation?

A research consultation is a meeting with a librarian, scheduled in advance at your convenience, to get help with your research. Librarians can consult with individuals one-on-one or with small groups. This service is available to all UNM students, and meeting with a librarian early in your research process can help you save time and get a better grade. Guidance from expert librarians ensures you are asking the right questions, searching the right resources, and employing the right search strategies to navigate your research process with confidence.

Research consultations are highly tailored to meet your unique needs. Different types of research consultations include:

  • Refining your research topic two seated figures each w outstretched arm
  • Developing your search strategy
  • Identifying relevant databases and journals
  • Finding and evaluating information resources
  • Searching the web for trustworthy information
  • Discovering alternative search terms for your topic
  • Demonstrating advanced search techniques for specific databases
  • Narrowing your search results
  • Tracking down a hard-to-find resource
  • Locating datasets for analysis
  • Using citation styles and tools correctly
  • Learning how to conduct a literature review when writing a publishable article
  • Planning and organizing a large project, such as a capstone, senior thesis, or doctoral dissertation
  • Selecting a journal or other publication venue to pitch an article
  • Managing your scholarly reputation over time
  • Discussing copyright or intellectual property issues

What to Expect at Your Consultation


You can request a consultation by making an appointment online or sending an email to a librarian directly. We recommend requesting an appointment at least a few business days in advance to allow time for the librarian to prepare. The more prepared the librarian is, the more useful the consultation will be for you. So plan ahead!

When scheduling the appointment, the librarian will let you know where you can plan to meet in the library. The librarian may also set up and share with you technical details for how to join a virtual meeting, if that is your preference. Librarians typically use a tool called Zoom for remote consultations.

If you are unable to keep an appointment, please contact the librarian immediately, so that another student can be given your appointment time if needed.

The librarian will ask you to provide as much detail as possible about your assignment and topic. Sometimes it is helpful to share the text of the assignment you received from your professor so that the librarian knows all of the requirements you need to fulfill with your research. At a minimum, tell the librarian your deadline and provide some idea of the scope/length of your paper or project.

Share with the librarian where you have already looked for information, so that the librarian can prepare to help you find new-to-you resources.


Consultations typically last between 15 minutes and one hour. Librarians will usually schedule a full hour for your appointment, but the consultation may end early depending on your needs.

The consultation takes place in a relatively quiet, private space, generally in a library office or meeting room with a computer. However, a librarian will often advise you to bring your own laptop if you have one so you can get hands-on practice.

Although a librarian may provide you with a couple of sample articles or other resources, the librarian DOES NOT perform your research for you. The point of the consultation is to talk over your research strategy with the librarian and get advice on how to overcome any challenges you may have encountered.

You may have a surprisingly good time. Librarians are fun people.


You are encouraged to reach out to the librarian again with any follow-up questions you have as you continue your work.

If you have a larger, more complex project, you may choose to schedule more than one consultation appointment.

You will have learned how to conduct library research more effectively.

You may secretly pat yourself on the back for taking advantage of a valuable service.