Drew University Library

English 1
Fall 2006

Getting an overview:
Frequently, if you don’t know a great deal about a potential research topic, it’s a good idea to try to get some background on the topic, so that you have a broader context for your research. The public web is sometimes a good place, although you should evaluate the source you use carefully. Specialized encyclopedias, which have been thoroughly vetted by editors, and reviewed by experts in their fields, may also be useful, particularly if your topic has been around for a while, or if you're looking for contextualization of a very recent event or topic. If you’re not familiar with any relevant encyclopedias, check at the Reference Desk for recommendations. Examples of specialized encyclopedias include:

Encyclopedia of modern ethnic conflicts, 2003.
Encyclopedia of religion, 2005
Encyclopedia of psychology, 2000.
Encyclopedia of the biosphere, 2000.

Planning your search:
Think about what types of information sources are likely to be most useful for your topic.

Locating material:
To find books, go to the Drew Library Catalog (http://catalog.drew.edu)  Generally start with 'Keyword' to search for common terms describing your topic. When you find books that seem relevant, click on "Complete Record" and look at the "Subject Term" entries to identify the specific phrases used to describe books on the topic. Search those terms for more books.

Magazine and journal articles:
Articles are indexed through databases, which vary in scope and depth. They're listed on Drew Library's Online Resources (http://depts.drew.edu/lib/eresources/index.php), off the Research Resources page, sorted by whether they're a good place to start or better for very in-depth research.  Some possibilities for starting points:

If the broad databases are not pulling up any items, either rephrase your search or check one of the more specialized indexes listed under Humanities, Social Sciences or Sciences on Online Resources.

Public web sites:
Use directories such as Academic Info (http://www.academicinfo.net/) or Librarians' Index to the Internet (http://lii.org/) to locate recommended sites, and to get a sense of what's available. For narrower searches, search engines like Google will retrieve more focused results.

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