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Library Research Orientation

First Steps

What if I don't know precisely which topic I'm interested in researching?  Use some of the tools below to browse broad subject categories or specific research topics. 

As you look for an interesting topic think about the approach you will take in your research.  Will you analyze, explain, narrate, or persuade?  Will you be humorous or serious?  What's the class perspective, is it philosophical, historical, sociological, psychological, or scientific?

After you have determined a topic you will need to gain an overview of that topic by reading background materials.  As you begin to acquire knowledge about your subject you may need to adjust your topic, but try to always have a clear idea of your goal or you can waste time and energy.


After you think you have selected a topic the next step is background reading to gain an overview of the topic and determine if it will work for your research assignment.  General and subject encyclopedias are an excellent resource for people, dates, events and concepts on your topic.  There are not digital subject encyclopedias available for every subject, but here are the links for some from the NICC library collection:

You can use the library's "Multisearch" tab to find "research starters" on your topic.  These offer general overviews of popular subjects you may have chosen to research. Just type in your search terms.

For examples see below:

Further thinking on your topic:

  1. Review the assignment
  2. What types of resources are you required to use (books, articles, audio-visual, websites, etc.)?
  3. Were you told to limit your research to specific ranges of dates?
  4. Have you found lots and lots of material on your topic, perhaps indicating it is very broad?
  5. Have you found little information on your topic, perhaps indicating it is too specific and narrow?
  6. Can you reframe your thesis (research question) to better use NICC's existing resources?

Some of these pages may help you think through the research process.