Where to find ideas:
Find topics in these library resources:
Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest and can help you to develop a thesis.
Questions to Narrow Your Topic
Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?
What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?
To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?
On what time period would you like your research focused?
Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?
What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis is typically a one sentence statement in the first paragraph, or beginning, of your project that states your purpose. Thesis statements should be arguable, specific, detailed, and meaningful.
Once you have identified a topic, select the terms and phrases that are essential to understanding the topic.
One way to do this is to create a Mind Map. Mind mapping is a way to explore a topic visually. You write down your topic, then think of the major elements related to the topic. Each of these elements can be broken down further, until you have explored your topic. You can do this on your computer or just sketch one out by hand.
When researching, we are like detectives trying to combine the right terms in the right place to find the information we need. The other sections will help you to decide where to search, but how should you combine search terms to find what you are looking for?
Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic. Use this type of search when looking for basic background information.
Search for information by combining key concepts using the words you have brainstormed. Each concept/word should be separated by the word "AND". Use this kind of search when looking for specific evidence related to your claim/thesis.
Getting Too Many Irrelevant Results?
Add more search terms or narrow by source type, date or other limits.
Getting Too Few Relevant Results?
Change or remove some search terms.
Subjects (or Descriptors)
Each source has key points pulled out and listed as subjects. Use these to brainstorm keywords and see how the database is grouping similar articles. Try searching using the subjects from an item you find. See example below:
You can use a thesaurus to explore these subjects and find broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms. A thesaurus is a list of words with the same or nearly the same meanings.
Articles are the individual "stories" published in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. For example, a story about the Atlanta Falcons published in Sports Illustrated is an article.
Journals contain several articles published about a specific subject area and are typically scholarly. For example, an article about stem cell research was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Databases index millions of articles published in thousands of newspapers, magazines, and journals. There are databases that index sources from many different discipline areas, while others are subject specific. For example, the New York Times can be accessed by searching the database Lexis Nexis Academic.
SuperSearch allows you to search various physical and electronic library collections and source types in one place! To limit your search to articles use the "Source Type" check boxes on the left side of the search results.
SuperSearch will find source types such as:
Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search the web for scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources. If you are asked to pay for an article from Google Scholar, instead search the library databases to get it for free.
For help with topic development, organizing or writing your research papers, and detailed citation assistance please visit the KSU Writing Center:
Phone: (470) 578-6380
Fall and Spring Hours:
Phone: (470) 578-5005
Fall and Spring Hours:
Ground Floor Library, G16 (Kennesaw)
First Floor Library, C125 (Marietta)
(72 Hours Advance Notice)
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