Explore Your Topic
Before beginning in-depth research it might be helpful to do a little initial exploration of your topic just to see what is or is not already out there. A quick search of the Libraries' catalog or a periodical database will give you an idea of how much has actually been published on your topic. If you get way too many search results you can begin to think about how to make your search more specific. If you get too few results, you will need to think of strategies to broaden your search and increase your results.
Exploring your topic in reference sources can help jump start your research too. Reference sources are authoritative works that are usually meant to be read for specific answers or information rather than cover-to-cover. Some of the most common reference sources are dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, directories, almanacs, handbooks and bibliographies.
Reference sources can provide the following about a topic you might be exploring:
- Background information
- Brief, factual overviews
- Information about important dates, events, and people associated with the topic
- Terminology and definitions of terms
- Articles written by authors with expertise on your topic
- A list of further readings you can use as a springboard for your research
Explore your topic in the following online reference tools and collections.
Reference and Information Services
William T. Young Library
Responsibilities: General Reference, Information Literacy and Library Instruction, Reference Collection Management, Academic Liaison for Social Work