- Where possible pick something that interests you.
- Be open to questioning your assumptions.
- Avoid topics that are too broad or too narrow: if you are interested in climate change for instance, focus on a specific issue under that umbrella rather than trying to tackle the entire thing.
- Read widely to strengthen your knowledge of a topic so that you can use more precise search terms and get better results.
These databases and digital resources are particularly helpful for starting a research assignment. They are easy to navigate and provide detailed and authoritative information.
One you've gained some basic understanding of your topic, you may need to find more information. You may find yourself in need of additional information not found in the basic reference databases, in need of peer reviewed sources, or required to find print resources.
- Practice using the "Advanced Search" options where possible: see what happens when you check and uncheck certain boxes, when you use more or fewer search terms, when you do "subject" or "title" searches instead of "any field."
- Use the filter options in your search results to help sort through large numbers of search results to find what you're looking for.
- If you can't find an article that says exactly what you need it to say then its time to change your mind or your search strategy. The research should be telling you what to say, not your gut.
- Peer Review represents the highest standard for quality but it is a process that takes time which means you may not find a large quantity of peer reviewed sources on every topic. Due to limits of time, geography, language, or social status, not every story gets recorded for the historical record in the level of detail we might want it to be.
These databases and resources will help you get that extra level of quality and scholarly rigor that you need. They may be less straight forward to use than Google but with patience and experimentation, they can be powerful tools.