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WGS 4500: Home

Background Research

Sources such as encyclopedias and hot topics databases can be good places to get a sense of what some of the areas of interest within your topic are. 

Developing your topic


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:

Keywords Based Searching

Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Check out this page for more information about using keywords in your searches.

Articles: best databases to use

Database searching is good for looking for materials on a specific topic in many different journals at the same time.  These databases don't use phrase searching, so be sure to break your searches into the main ideas or keywords. 

Statistical Data

Identifying Quality Information

People write for many different reasons - to inform, entertain, persuade, mislead, satirize, describe, etc. and the quality of the information can depend on the reason it was written or shared. Information changes as new facts, data, and knowledge comes to light. In an academic assignment, it is important to use information that is reliable, accurate, objective, and up-to-date. You will need to evaluate each source you locate, to determine if it is something that will support or contradict your thesis and/or topic. You will look at more sources than you need, and that is okay, and encouraged! The more sources you read, the more informed you are about the topic and can pick the best resources for your assignment.

Below is a list of videos, eBooks, and websites that can help you evaluate information and sources.

Questions? Ask your librarian!

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