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Local History & Culture: Getting Started

Selecting a Topic

Selecting a topic isn't always easy. The following is list of mediums that will provide you with ideas for selecting and narrowing your topic:

- What's on the News (television, newpaper, online)

- Current debate everyone is discussing

- Topic that is of interest to you

 

The Information Cycle

The information cycle illustrates what types of information is available based on events. By understanding the information cycle, you will be able to determine what information is available on the topic and better evaluate information sources covering it.

Image from University Library - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Steps in the Research Process

  • Select a Topic
    Immigration
  • Brainstorm for Ideas
    Choose an area that interests you > strong opinion about it? read or hear about it?
  • Do some background reading
    Encyclopedias, websites, articles
  • Refine the topic
    Limit to geographical area, population group, discipline
  • Make a list of keywords
    Broader or narrower terms, synonyms, key concepts
  • Form a research question
    What do you attempt to answer or discuss 
  • Locate  & Analyze your information
    Library catalog, databases, Internet search engines > evaluate your sources
  • Form your Thesis Statement
    Write your topic as a thesis statement, the answer to your research question
  • Write, write, write - cite, cite, cite

The Research Process

Washington State E-Learning Council.  "Types of Information: Cash in Your Information Riches." IRIS 4-2. (http://www.clark.edu/Library/iris/types/sources/sources.shtml). Published by Clark College Libraries. Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0.