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Where to Start: Preliminary Research
STEP 1: You must do some research
before you come up with a
Start with tertiary sources (books, encyclopedias, Wikipedia, bibliographies etc). You are looking for general background information that is going to give you names, dates, locations, and general ideas on how to approach your topic.
Example From Class:
What medical services where available during the building of the panama canal and what role did France and the United States play in medical care?
Learn more about your topic.
What sounds interesting to you from what you discover?
What gaps do you see in the information you have found?
Creating a Research Topic
Tips and Guides for Creating a "Good" Research Question
Research Questions: Creating a Manageable Topic
Topic Narrowing Tools
Topic is Appropriate
- Does it match the assignment? See Step 1.
- Is it manageable?
- Time: Do you have the time to thoroughly research this topic and meet the requirements of the assignment?
- Resources: Do you have access to relevant resources to address this topic?
- Skills: Are you prepared to tackle this question (reading, writing, technical skills)?
Is it a good research question?
Does it study the topic/question in a new way?
Does it connect findings to a larger or specific group of people?
Does it share a perspective not often heard?
Does it share a new solution or way to perform tasks?
Next Steps: Information Collection
STEP 2: Information Collection
Start using required sources of information.
The purpose of this phase is to actually find the resources that will enable you to complete your research. To do tis, you will want to:
- Identify the most appropriate databases or resource for your topic.
- Brainstorm the terminology.
- Combining search terms.
- Methodically search relevant databases and/ore other online sources.
- Request assistance from experts.
- Start searching the Secondary Sources and Primary Sources page on this history guide
- Books in the SFCC/SCC Libraries Collection
- Books in the Public Library Collection
- Other Sources
Next Steps: Research Review
Edit your sources to the best selections.
At this stage, you should begin to feel confident and your anxiety should be relieved somewhat. This is a result of:
- Staying on track
- Close to completion
- Still anxious
The purpose of this phase is to review the information to ensure that it is relevant and appropriate to your specific topic. This is also a good time to make sure that you are meeting all the assignment’s criteria. To do this, you will want to:
- Reread your course assignment guidelines
- Evaluate the information you found
- Review reference lists
Next Steps: Search Closure
Time to wrap things up and properly cite sources of information.
The purpose of this phase is to complete your information search and prepare to use the information you have found. In order to do this, you will want to:
- Scan for overlooked information
- Verify the information you have
- Be Careful about Plagiarism
- Review your assignment again
Get Materials from the SFCC Library
Can't Find an Item You Want?
If you find a reference to a book or article that does not seem to be available through the online catalog or article databases, the SFCC Library can get it for you! Contact the Reference Desk at 509-533-3834 / 800-251-1972, or submit an online interlibrary loan request.
Keep in mind that it may take ten days to two weeks for print materials to arrive. Articles will be primarily emailed and typically take up to 24-72 hours to arrive.
How to Request an Item from the CCS Libraries
This document, "Requesting a Document from the CCS Libraries," provides step-by-step instructions for requesting physical items, such as books and DVDs from the library.