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Students often remark that it is sometimes more difficult to find information in databases. One reason is that databases are so much smaller than the the entire world of web information. Following are some tips to make your searching more productive:
If a topic is too broad or vague you will find too much information and will need to narrow the focus.
If it is too specific or specialized or new, it will be difficult finding enough information to write your paper this quarter. In that case, you will need to broaden your idea.
How to Narrow A Topic
Example: I'm thinking of doing a paper on an environmental subject. This topic could develop in many different ways.
Ask Yourself Questions About Your Topic:
|General Topic:||the environment|
|Time span:||1960s to the present|
|Place:||oceans, Los Angeles|
|Person or group:||organizations working on the issues|
|Event or Aspects:||behavior; sociological; changes|
How to Broaden Your Topic
Example: I'm doing a paper about a particular artist who graduated from Otis
This topic as stated may not have many many articles yet written about it. How can this be turned into a more manageable topic?
Look for broader associations:
|Specific Topic:||Robert Glover, ceramics artist|
|Alternate focus:||Ceramics artists|
|California, the U.S.|
|Focus on a Person or Group:||Post WWI art movement, ceramics programs in a specific college, California artists, ceramics in terms of crafts vs. fine arts|
|Focus on an Event or Aspect:||Getty Pacific Standard Time initiative, an exhibition about "Clay in L.A.:|
And there's always this option: Ask a reference librarian!