Whether you're already familiar with your topic or not, encyclopedia's give a great overview and can help you identify major issues, history of social movements and/or diverse perspectives on an issue.
Finding the right level of research is an important first step. Consider whether your topic is too broad (you're getting too many results or they're not relevant enough to your topic) or too narrow (you're finding too few results).
If your topic is too narrow, you might not find enough information. You can broaden it by exploring related issues, comparing it with a related issue, increasing the time span or population covered. You might also find that your topic is too recent to be covered in academic journals.
If your topic is too broad, you might find too much information. You can narrow your focus by limiting the population or time period covered or by looking at a smaller piece or specific angle of the topic.
Use these handouts to help you narrow or broaden your topic:
Learning how to read scholarly articles and incorporate them into your work will improve the quality of your research and writing, and has the potential to save you time and reduce stress.