Skip to main content

WIT: Starting Your Research


Books are still great places to use when getting to know a topic. Every book is a potential source of terms and authors names that you can use to search even further.  

Brainstorming With a Little Help

The first step in conducting research is choosing a topic. Your instructor may assign a topic, or you may be able to select your own. 

Of course, none of us start a project knowing everything there is to know. Luckily there are a number of places you can begin to get to know your topic. 

Remember to pick one that interests you -- after all, you'll have to spend the time researching and writing about it, so it might as well be something you like! 

Pro/Con Databases can be great places to see the many sides of an issue.  Encyclopedia are still good places for background information.  Go ahead and type something into those boxes below and see what you find!

Pro/Con Databases


Electronic Encyclopedia


Oxford Reference Online Search Box Example
Search Oxford Reference Online

Focusing Your Topic

Just like Goldilocks (of breaking & entering fame) had to try out things before she found ones that were "just right," so too will you. 

Research can be the same way. You've picked a topic, but sometimes you need to narrow or expand your focus. If a topic is too broad, you will get too much information (too big). If it is too narrow, you wont find enough (too small). There's a little trial and error to find exactly what you need (just right).


Questions to Ask While Brainstorming

  • When did this first become an issue?
  • Why is it an issue?
  • Who does it affect?
  • What's been said about it in the past?
  • What else do I need to know about it to understand it?
© UAB Libraries ι University of Alabama at Birmingham ι About Us ιContact Us ι Disclaimer