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Developing a Research Topic

A process, not a choice

Good Places to Start

Don't have a topic idea yet? Or have a general area of interest and want to browse your way to a more specific issue or discussion within it? Need keywords to use effectively in One Search? Try these easy-to-use database resources:

Opposing Viewpoints in Context - a great database to start with when you need a place to begin the process and want to find a wide variety of sources -- from reference articles, trusted websites, images and statistics to substantive and scholarly articles -- that look at all sides of issues in almost any subject area. Easy to use; citations included!

CQ Researchera database full of substantive reports packed full of pro/con discussions, cited statistical charts, links to primary sources, references, and trusted web resources. Issues are tracked through linked reports. Great examples of researchable questions taken from general topics providing keywords for easy searching in other library resources. Hot topics; citations included!

Points of View Reference Center - an Ebsco database that will look familiar (like One Search), has full-text articles, essays, and guides that present multiple sides of an issue. A great place to start; citations included!

Films on Demand - a database perfect for those who like to learn from videos, films on every subject from Art to Health Sciences, from English to Criminal Justice. As easy to use as YouTube, you can watch just short segments (e.g. interviews, speeches) or full length films AND there is a running transcript of each so that you can quote and paraphrase for your projects, just like you would from a book or article. Of course, citations included!

**Already confident using One Search on the library home page and have an idea you want to explore? Search your general topic and (before you begin narrowing it down) visit "databases searched" at the bottom of the Refine Results menu. By clicking "show more" you can see all of the databases that One Search found results for you topic in. Look for the databases above, and open each of them with the link in a new tab to see what each offers on your topic. A time saver that searches all of the "issues" databases at once. For easy One Search reminders, visit the Searching Basics guide.

Reliable Places to find "Google-able" Facts and Background Information (with citations!)

Funk & Wagnalls New World EncyclopediaNothing like a general encyclopedia to find a way to find, verify, and cite facts you are used to "googling." Learn to recognize what trustworthy web articles look like. Find associations and connections to help you explore your topic and find keywords to search further. Citations included!

Gale Virtual Reference Library - A bookshelf of virtual reference books in a wide variety of subject areas from business to biology and history to health that you might enjoy if you liked exploring the Opposing Viewpoints database. Citations included!

Oxford Reference -  A one stop shop for your reference needs -- English and bilingual dictionaries, timelines, quotations, overviews, and  reference sources for all subjects. A great place to browse your subject area if you are looking for a topic, to get cited definitions for special terms, and to get background and language (keywords) to use when you look for your scholarly articles or primary sources. Citations included!

**Already comfortable with One Search? Find reference articles on your topic from different resources by searching your topic and opening "databases searched" under Refine Results. You'll find a database called Research Starters full of articles with background information for you. For more help, visit this tab in the Searching Basics guide.

From General to Specific - Subject Databases

Just a few examples of databases with resources for specific subject areas, when you are ready to dig in! Find a complete list here.

History Reference Center - Everything history:   books, periodicals, documents, videos, biographies, photos, and maps; some full-text from 1917-current

Homeland Security Digital Library - Documents related to homeland security policy, strategy, and organizational management from 1776-current

Legal Information Reference Center Publications from Nolo and thousands of official legal forms; 1999-current; constructs bibliography in five different citation styles

Oxford Music Online - Full-text of Grove Music Online, The Oxford Companion to Music, and The Oxford Dictionary of Music

Project Muse - Full-text peer-reviewed journal articles in literature and criticism, visual and performing arts, history, political science, cultural studies, and more from 1990-current

Science Reference Center - Science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, biographies and videos from 1945-current

UpToDate - Peer reviewed and graded evidence-based recommendations for quality patient care and treatment that can be used by healthcare practitioners in making point-of-care decisions. Restricted to nursing students.

**Remember that you can always use One Search and then open up the results from databases like these by opening "databases searched" under Refine Results on the first results page. For more help, visit this tab in the Searching Basics guide.