An important part of being a University of Southern Maine student is engaging in scholarly research. Since there are so many fields of study, sources of information, and ever-evolving tools, research involves a skill set that can always be improved or enhanced. On a broader scale, the experience of doing research provides students with life-long transferable skills, including how to find relevant information, evaluate the reliability and objectivity of the source, and provide evidence to support one’s argument.

Connecting with Research Assistance

Finding research sources as an undergraduate student, graduate student, or as a professional scholar can be challenging. Our staff of Research Librarians at the Learning Commons are available to help students anytime during library hours, in person, by phone, email, or chat. Librarians can save students a great deal of time by directing them to the best sources for their research topic, as well as showing them how to use the Library’s research tools. USM students, staff, and faculty members have 24/7 online access to thousands of peer-reviewed journals, e-books, free interlibrary loan, and many other resources and services.

Our library staff offers USM students an array of services to help with research and coursework. For those who can visit us on one of our three campuses, we offer drop-in help finding and citing books, scholarly articles, and other materials. We also offer scheduled one-on-one research consultation appointments, in person or on Zoom, for more in-depth assistance. For students unable to visit us on campus, we offer drop-in help by phone, chat, or email.  Students needing help when the library is closed can use online guides to research and sources by subject area, as well as guides tailored to a particular course based on instructor request. A growing set of research skills tutorials continues to be developed with our students in mind.

Below are the options for contacting our USM Libraries team:

Learning Commons Navigators

If new to doing research as a USM student, it can be helpful to meet with a Learning Commons Navigator at the Portland campus location (second floor of the Glickman Library). A Learning Commons Navigator is a current USM undergraduate or graduate student trained in guiding peers through the initial steps of conducting academic research. This includes:

  • Exploring ways to clarify the idea for a research topic
  • Finding the most relevant articles, books, videos, and other resources associated with the research topic
  • Identifying the most appropriate database for the topic
  • Connecting to a professional Reference Librarian for assistance with more complex questions

Learning Commons Navigators can assist students with several other academic tasks, including:

  • Using the computers, printers, scanners, and other technology in The Learning Commons
  • Connecting with a Subject-Based Tutor, Writing Assistant, Technology Coach, or Peer Academic Coach
  • Reserving a Group Study Room
  • Resolving other issues or needs via referral to other USM departments

Writing Support

One goal of the creation of the Learning Commons was to bring together USM’s research and writing resources in one place, both physically and virtually. USM Librarians, Learning Commons Navigators, and Writing Assistants are here to support students’ research and writing every step of the way. Visit the Writing Assistance page for additional information regarding writing support.

Video: Introduction to the Research Process

Watch our video Introduction to the Research Process for step-by-step guidance on effectively preparing for and completing your required research assignments.