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Library Research Process

This guide provides introductory information and tips on the research process.

Finding a Topic: Start with a Big Idea

Usually, your assignment has some parameters: write a paper on a topic related to this class: environmental problems, for example, or feminist concerns, or technology and society.  

      But those are still so big; whole libraries are devoted to environmental problems.  

              How do I get hold of a starting point?  

We recommend looking in some of these places to get ideas of what people are talking about.  


You will probably need to narrow your topic further as you go. 

Some Sources for Topics in the Popular Press

Here are some places to go browsing for starter ideas:

Another way into subtopics: Visuwords creates a mindmap of related terms related to the one you type in. 

Two Databases That Cover Hot Topics

CQ Researcher logoCQ Researcher

  • Original reporting and analysis on issues in the news.
  • Each report includes:  intro,  pro-con debates;  background, chronology;  tables and maps;  and bibliography. 

Opposing Viewpoints logoIn Context: Opposing Viewpoints 

  • Searches hundreds of sources for current topics.
  • Includes images, statistics, audio, and video files.

A Few More Current Issues Sources