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Locating Information on YOUR RESEARCH TOPIC!

Once you've selected a topic

1.Read about it in a subject encyclopedia to get an idea of the scope of your topic. Ask a librarian to help you locate a subject encyclopedia or search for your topic in the Reference Universe Database, found through Databases. You'll often find a short bibliography at the end of the reference book entry to lead you to other sources. Subject encyclopedia articles will also help you identify terms to use in your search for information.

2. As you read the entry in the subject encyclopedia and as you work through steps 3, 4 and 5, compare the topic you originally selected to the material you are finding. Are you able to find enough information, or are you finding far too much? You may need to revise the topic. Consider the following questions: Where? When? How? Why? What Kind? Whose? Social Aspects? Political Aspects? Economic Aspects? Historical Aspects? Technical Aspects? Point of View? Controversial aspects? as you broaden or narrow your topic.

3.Use the online catalog, Minerva, to locate books on your topic. To find materials about a particular subject, try a title/subject keyword search. However, this might result in too many items. If you can find one good item on your result list, look at the subject headings assigned to it. If one looks appropriate, click on it (it’s a link), then on the menu choose “Go” under “Browse a headings list in Minerva.”  Or you can use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (big red books located on the low tables at the back of the reference desk) to find the right subject term to use for searching in the catalog. This source will also suggest broader and narrower topics. You can also search in Minerva by author or title. Ask a librarian for help if you get stuck.

4. Use the Database link on the University Libraries’ home page to locate articles about your topic in either print or electronic format. If you do not know which database you want to use, select your subject from the menu on the left, then click search. A list of databases will appear. Click “About” to find out which database is right for you. Once you select a database, use your research topic key words to search the database – you’ll find journal, magazine and newspaper articles.  You may wish to start with databases that have full text articles. This means you can read the whole article directly from the database.  If full-text is not available, use Minerva to find out if we own or have Web access to the journals or magazines in which your articles appear. If you’re having trouble finding articles, try different words, or ask a librarian to suggest some search terms. If you find items that we don’t own, a librarian can tell you how you might get the articles or books you need, either at a local library or through InterLibrary Loan.

5.Use the Research by Subject link on the Libraries’ Web site, for additional resource suggestions. Here you’ll find a collection of Internet resources and research guides developed by our subject librarians, as well as pertinent databases.

6.Use the bibliographies at the end of books and articles to find more sources on your topic. Use Minerva to find out if the Libraries own a specific book or journal. If we don’t own it, use our Interlibrary Loan service to obtain it.

Flowchart of the Process

PaperTopic scheme


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