We'll use these links in today's library instruction session:
Topic selection isn't just a matter of saying "I'm going to write about X." It's important to start out with an idea of what you're going to write about along those lines, but it's also important to start your research with some flexibility in mind.
Think of all the literature you look at as part of your research as a conversation about your topic. You need to listen to what others are saying before you make your contribution so that you can enter that conversation in an informed way.
This video from the University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries illustrates this idea very nicely.
Library Databases need to be searched in a different way than something like Google. Breaking your topic up into key concepts prepares your topic to be searched in a library database. It also makes your research more efficient and decreases the chance that you'll be up at 3am wondering how the heck you found that one perfect article that is now lost.
Use the topic handout to keep track as you go along. (Here's a blank one you can print out.)
Example topic: Race in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing
Key concepts: 1) race and 2) the film, Do The Right Thing.
Once you've broken your topic into key concepts, write those key concepts in the top box of two of the columns (see below). Then, brainstorm additional keywords to use in your search. Try to find at least a couple additional keywords related to each key concept. It's good to find synonyms as well as broader and more narrow keywords for concept.
As you can see, for Do The Right Thing, "film", which is a more broad way of talking about that concept was used, as well as the writer and director of the work, Spike Lee. For race, ethnicity was almost synonymous, and discrimination and prejudice are concepts that, particularly in the context of the work, relate to race.
Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you'll connect them together using the words AND and OR:
Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you can use them to search one of our databases (see below).