Skip to Main Content
Using Subject Guides
If none of the resources listed in this guide 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
eBook Collection (Gale) This link opens in a new window
Search for ebooks that provide a broad overview of many topics. The database includes mostly reference works, such as encyclopedias, almanacs, yearbooks, handbooks, and more. (Gale)
Oxford Reference Online This link opens in a new window
Search for background information on a variety of topics published in the Oxford series of reference books. Find information on topics in the arts, sciences, history, language and literature, and more. (Oxford)
Access Science This link opens in a new window
Search across thousands of comprehensive encyclopedia entries covering all major science disciplines. This database also includes definitions of scientific terms, biographies of well-known scientists, a few textbooks, and Schaum's Outlines. (McGraw-Hill)
CQ Researcher This link opens in a new window
Access nonpartisan reports and background information on controversial topics and policy issues. These reports were historically written for members of Congress to understand all sides of a particular issue. The reports in this database date from 1923-present. (Sage)
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
Subjects: American Studies
, Book Reviews
, Citing Sources
, Classical Studies
, English & Literature
, First Year Seminar
, International Education
, Language and Linguistics
, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
, Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies
, Master of Liberal Arts
, Primary Resources
, Reference Sources
, Rhetoric & Communication Studies
, Richmond Area
, Scholarly Publications
, Special Topics