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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, ethical, psychological, aesthetic, economic, political, and philosophical.
- What time period do the crimes and the narratives cover?
- .How does the narrative structure, imply or assume your understanding of the populations involved as actors, witnesses, and readers? (Categories may involve gender, race, class, age, occupation, nationality, etc)
- How does your topic fit into a larger system or structure?
- What do you need to know about the background of these events? Were they preceded by other events that affected the coverage in the media?. 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.
Basic Library Tools
OneSearch This link opens in a new window
Use this discovery tool to search most of the University Libraries' collections, including books, journal articles, newspapers, dissertations, music, and video recordings. (Ex Libris)
How to Read a Call Number
How to read a Library of Congress call number to locate books in Boatwright Library.
Use this search to find out if the UR Libraries subscribe to a particular journal (in print or online), and which years are available.
Academic Search Complete This link opens in a new window
Search for journal articles on most topics. This multi-disciplinary database is a good place to start if you don't know where else to begin. (EBSCO)
Further information on choosing databases in Ebscohost and doing combined searches can be found on this guide: http://support.ebsco.com/help/index.php?help_id=75
Social Sciences Full Text This link opens in a new window
Search for journal articles on topics related to the social sciences. This link includes both current content and retrospective content from 1907-1984. (EBSCO)
Just because they call it "Google Scholar" that's no guarantee that everything you find here is peer reviewed or even strictly scholarly. Use with caution, as you would any resource based on unrestricted self-publication.
Subjects: American Studies
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, First Year Seminar
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