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LLC 140: How to Write Everything: Getting Started

Using Subject Guides

If none of the databases listed below covers the subject area of interest to you, look on the page that lists research guides by subject.  

There you will find a more comprehensive list of journal databases and other information resources.

Almanacs & Encyclopedias

How to Narrow and Focus Your Topic

Start by phrasing your subject or general topic in the form of a question.

Then ask yourself further questions about your topic:

  • What do you know about it? What don't you know?
  • What aspects or viewpoints of your topic interest you? Examples include social, legal, medical, ethical, biological, psychological, economic, political, and philosophical. A viewpoint allows you to focus on a single aspect.
  • What time period do you want to cover?
  • What place or geographic region do you want to cover? Examples include national, international, local social norms & values, economic & political systems, or languages.
  • What population do you want to cover? Examples include gender, age, occupation, ethnicity, nationality, educational attainment, species, etc.
  • How does your topic fit into a larger system or structure?
     
  • Next, look for resources which provide background information. Some selected general and specialized subject sources can help narrow the topic.
     
  • Remember, there are two layers of research:
    1) a broad search to discover resources and to read some background information
    2) specific searches for information once you've focused your topic.
     

Link to Narrowing Your Topic: 5 Quick Tips