Consultation Policy for the Science, Engineering, & Social Science Libraries: Home

About Research Consultations

Research consultations are one-on-one or small group appointments lasting 30-60 minutes, in which a librarian will ask questions about your information needs and guide you to the best resources and methods available. We are currently offering consultations remotely via Zoom or phone.

Our goal is to help Columbia affiliates become more effective researchers. We will help you with your research question by explaining the best ways to access and utilize our resources, provide tips to make your time spent searching databases more productive, provide guidance on managing your research with citation management tools.

When Scheduling a Consultation

  • To schedule a consultation with a librarian, please use the Schedule a Research Consultation form.
  • Please be as specific as possible about your research topic, although we understand that figuring out how to ask a research question is also part of the process.
  • The librarian will reply to you via email to arrange the appointment date and time. If you will be late or are otherwise unable to keep the appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. We reserve the right to cancel or reschedule a consultation if you are significantly late.
  • We are unable to accommodate same-day scheduling requests; please use the Ask A Librarian chat service for immediate assistance. In addition, due to time and staffing constraints, the Libraries cannot accommodate research consultations for an entire class. Instead, we can lead a classroom instruction session, which can be requested by faculty and teaching assistants at our Schedule a Library Instruction Session form.

During the Consultation

Common consultation activities include:

  • An introduction to key library services and resources
  • How to get started on your research
  • Relevant databases and online resources for your topic
  • Identifying search terms, keywords, and strategies to effectively find articles

We will not analyze assignments or come up with appropriate research topics. We can help focus a general topic in a more specific direction, but choosing a research topic is ultimately the responsibility of the student. We will not assist with or edit the content of assignments, papers, or dissertations. For assistance with the content and direction of an assignment or paper, we suggest consulting your instructor, as well as the Writing Center or GSAS Writing Studio.