Research Tips SPC1608
Read Your Assignment
- Take the time to carefully read over the assignment.
- Take notice of the length, word count, topic guidelines and resources required.
- For a speech assignment, look over the Outline requirements.
Narrowing Your Topic
- If you choose too broad a topic, such as Education, you will need to narrow it down further. For example, a topic such as Education, may be narrowed down to homeschooling, Ivy Leagues vs. Public Universities, or college costs.
- A topic is too broad if cannot be covered in detail within the details of the assignment, a general statement about a general topic, or you are finding it hard to research.
- When using Library databases, use the Boolean operators as ways to narrow your search.
- Boolean operators are: And, Or, Not.
- Red-tide AND Florida
- Red-tide OR algae blooms
- Red-tide NOT Florida
Other ways to narrow your searches
- Use the Who, What, Where, Why, Other.
- Who- Is a particular population or group. (e.g. college students, women, Native Americans, elderly, gender, etc.).
- What-Is a discipline or focus. (e.g. sociological, historical, economic, medical, religious, ethical, environmental, etc.).
- Where-Is the geographic location. (e.g. United States, universities, small towns, cities, etc.).
- When-Is the time period or era. (e.g. 19th century, Renaissance, Vietnam War, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, etc.).
- Why-Why is the topic important? (to the class, to the audience, to the field/industry, or to future generations).
- Other. You may also narrow your topic by focusing on social norms, values and beliefs in a culture, laws in a culture, and so on.
Too Narrow a Topic
- A topic can also be too narrow.
- You will find a topic too narrow when:
- It is hard to research because there is too little information.
- It is too specific to draw a conclusion.
- When is cannot be discussed in detail in less than the required time or length of your assignment.
Ways to Broaden Your Search
- Try to broaden your topic to include related subjects.
- Try to broaden your topic by identifying broader terms.
- Expand your topic geographically
- Examine a larger problem related to your topic.
If you are unsure if your topic is too broad or too narrow, please see an SCF Librarian for help.
Citing Your Work
Remember that you must cite your work. Giving proper credit to the sources you used is vital. Many students will lose points or fail due to improper or missing citations, both in-text and a Works Cited or Reference page.
For citation help, please visit the SCF Library citation guide for help
Use Library Resources
Using credible library resources, either books, e-resources, or streaming video, will help you with your speech or research paper. It is much easier to find credible information using SCF Library resources than it is to search the internet. While you may find information on your topic through an Internet search, it will be up to you to determine the validity of the information. Instructors will expect your resources to be of a scholarly nature.