You will want to turn to library (and beyond) resources at multiple stages of your project or paper. An initial search around your topic or an idea you're interested in can help you develop your ideas further and come up with research questions to drive further research.
You may choose to write about Ebola, for example. But what about it? Broad, multidisciplinary databases can help you find out what the important issues or conversations around Ebola might be. Try using Tripod to find topical edited volumes; these multi-author collections showcase a wide range of disciplinary contributions to topics of global importance.
For example, you might become interested in issues of transmission, the role of poverty and international humanitarian aid, or how fear of Ebola impacts representations of Africa. Give yourself plenty of time to explore. Once you have narrowed your focus, you can search again with a more specific set of keywords or utilizing different facets (or filters) to restrict your search by date or resource type.
You might find everything you need in Tripod and journal databases, but what if you don't? You can use the same search strategies in WorldCat to find more. You can then request items through E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan. Note that E-Z Borrow is the first place to look for books not in Tripod. It usually takes just three days! Books not in E-Z Borrow can come from Interlibrary Loan (ILL) which may take as little as four or five days to arrive. Use Article Requests for journal articles not available in the Tri-Co for delivery in 1-10 days.
Sources from the Web can be useful, too. These Web Searching tips can get you started.
Don't despair if you aren't seeing the results you'd hoped for! Try different sets of keywords in different databases. Research is an iterative and experimental process!
Can weight loss help control cardiovascular disease?
Step 1: Break up this research question into two or three main concepts.
Step 2: Brainstorm synonyms, acronyms, and variant spellings.
(weight loss) AND (control OR prevention) AND (cardiovascular disease OR heart disease)
See the Princeton University Library's useful discussion of primary versus secondary sources.
As you conduct your search for secondary material, keep in mind the following questions to help you select high-quality and relevant resources:
See this resource for further information on evaluating secondary literature:
Evaluating Sources (Purdue Online Writing Lab)
Also try country-specific searches in Google. For example:
aids ghana statistics
aids ghana statistics site:.gov (to limit to U.S. government sites; also try site:.edu or site:.org for sites of U.S. educational institutions or organizations)
aids ghana statistics site:.gh (search websites originating in Ghana)
See other country codes here.