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Charles W. Chesnutt Library - Reference Department

LibraryReferenceIntro to Library ResearchResearch Tips

Research Tips

Step 1: Choose your topic

Select a topic and state it in the form of a question. These databases provide ideas and background information on a topic, often giving both sides of an argument:

CQ Researcher Online:Comprehensive, non-biased reporting and analysis on issues shaping our world.

Opposing Viewpoints: Draws on the acclaimed social issues series published by Greenhaven Press, as well as core reference content from other Gale and Macmillan Reference USA sources to provide a complete one-stop source for information on social issues. Access viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles.

SIRS Researcher: Thousands of full-text articles exploring social, scientific, historic, economic, political, and global issues

Step 2: Identify keywords and subject headings related to your topic

Keywords and subject headings may be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials such as handbooks, and manuals, etc. By searching the Online Catalog under a subject search, one can also see other related subject headings (ex. "genetic engineering" as a subject search will point to "fertilization in vitro" and "molecular cloning" as other narrower subject headings).

It may be necessary to narrow your topic at this point if your topic is too broad.

Step 3: Gather background information relating to your topic

This is done through the use of the Online Catalog, periodical indexes and abstracts, dictionaries, almanacs, bibliographies, internet resources, videos and audio resources.

See: Reference Collection: Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Biographical Sources, Almanacs and Statistical Sources, Atlases, Reviews and Plot Summaries

See the Subject Guides Page for assistance in locating books, periodicals, databases and web sites in your subject area.

Step 4: Evaluate the information collected

Determine whether enough material has been collected.

Ensure that proper credit is given to sources used. See the Guide on Style Manuals and Information for Writing Papers. Style manuals are also available at the Reference Desk in Chesnutt Library on the first floor.

For More In-Depth Help on Researching a Topic, See the Subject Guide on Developing a Research Topic in the Introduction to Library Research.

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