Identifying a Topic
Select a topic of interest to you, which fits the scope and fulfills the requirements of the assignment. Express your topic as a statement or a question (for example, How Airplanes Fly).
Browse or skim through reference books to find background information and to get an overview of your chosen topic.
- Dictionaries help you to define unfamiliar terms and to identify keywords for further research.
- Encyclopedias provide a general introduction to or a concise summary of the main ideas of a topic.
- Britannica Academic, an online encyclopedia, provides comprehensive coverage of many topics.
- Credo Reference, an online database of reference sources, helps you understand a topic and identify key terms for effective research.
- Gale eBooks (formerly called Virtual Reference Library) is an online collection of specialized reference books.
Finding Information Sources
Make a list of keywords to use as search terms when researching your topic in depth (for example, aeronautics, airplanes, aviation). These keywords may need to be revised as you search for information, depending on the terminology employed in the different resources you use.
- Books & E-Books
The Library has collections of over 47,000 print books and 70,000 electronic books. To find out if the Library has a book on your research topic, do a keyword search in the library catalog.
Periodicals are publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers, which are issued at regular intervals. The Library subscribes to about 80 different periodicals. Only use the specifically named substantive news sources listed in the COMM 45 Research Guidelines. To find out if the Library has a listed periodical, search the library catalog.
The Library subscribes to 80 research databases, covering a wide range of subjects. The following major databases, accessible on the library website, are good places to start your online research:
Search for the topic keywords that you formulated earlier in the research process. If your keywords don’t work, look for related search terms or subject headings in the relevant results that you do find.
Make sure to check the attached COMM 45 Research Guidelines below before citing or using a source in your outline or speech. All sources must be published within the last 10 years.