Scholarly Publishing and Open Access blog

The latest news and answers to your questions about scholarly publishing and open access.

Getting started with graduate research - what do you need to know?

Published by Chloe Riley

Whether you’re a new graduate student, a student new to designing or running research projects, or a researcher looking for support on a specific aspect of the research life cycle - we can help!

In the Research Commons, we offer workshops and consultations on a wide variety of topics that support research at all stages of the research life cycle.

In this post, we've collected just some of the resources and suggestions for what you need to know as you get started!

 Ethics application

Are you conducting research that involves human participants? You are required to submit your research proposal in advance of starting your research to SFU's Office of Research Ethics (ORE).

  • For information on the ethics application process, including a graduate student tutorial, ethics application checklists, and more, visit the ORE website.

  • Watch out for research ethics workshops conducted through the Research Commons.


Reach out to our research experts with your questions anytime! Email, phone, AskAway (our online chat), or drop in or make an in-person appointment at any of our three branches.

Your liaison librarian can help with discipline-specific research support, including selecting or navigating databases or resources, identifying search strategies, search tips and techniques, finding data or statistics, citation, and more. Email to book a consultation!

Self-service resources to get started with research:

  Research design / methodology

Questions about methodology or research design should be discussed with your supervisor. But we can help you find resources on methods in your discipline, and get you started with software tools that might help with your research.

Research data management

Setting up a Research Data Management plan will help ensure the data you collect and use in your research is understandable, findable, and preserved long-term. We can walk you through how to create a plan! Get in touch:

 Data analysis & visualization

We offer software, workshops, and consultations in support of data analysis (qualitative and quantitative), data visualization, mapping, and more. Check out tools such as R, NVivo, Tableau, ArcGIS, and more!


Our Graduate Writing team supports grad students in all disciplines. Services include:

Organize your life!

Identifying tools and strategies for keeping yourself organized, motivated and on-track are key. Remember that you will need to find strategies, routines, and workflows that work for you! Ask colleagues, friends, faculty members, and others if they are willing to share their strategies.

  • A citation management tool, such as Zotero, will help organize your research materials, and create in-text citations and bibliographies easily. Zotero is free and open-source, and we offer workshops and consults to get you started!

  • The Student Learning Commons has resources on some of the challenges in academia, including time management, critical thinking, motivation, and more. Some of the resources are focused on undergrads, but many are applicable to grad students as well, or even have grad-specific resources.

  • Browse the research strategies and resources of Raul Pacheco-Vega, including strategies for time management, note-taking, breaking down large projects/project management, and more.

Maintain current awareness

Stay informed about the latest research in your discipline by setting up search alerts, citation alerts, or table of contents alerts. Or learn about other strategies for keeping up to speed.

Thesis formatting and copyright

Scholarly publishing and scholarly visibility

We support researchers in exploring your publishing options, making your work open access, building your online presence, and measuring the reach and impact of your research.

Find out more in our online resources, register for a workshop, or get in touch:

Other SFU support and services

Any questions we didn't answer? Get in touch! Email us at

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