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Library DIY

Navigating UWG library resources and research

Learn about a topic

Before beginning more in-depth research, it's often helpful to get an overview of your topic through background research. This is sometimes called "pre-research" or "presearch" because it is the research that comes before the research you do for your actual paper or project. This can help you develop a more effective research question and brainstorm better search terms. 

Here are some tips to help you presearch:

  • Your instructor understands your assignment and is the best resource to provide advice about the topic and how to frame it. 
  • Once you understand your assignment, Ask a Librarian for help with research. We're available in person, via virtual chat, email, and phone. 
  • Resources like Wikipedia, encyclopedias, and dictionaries can provide helpful overviews of a topic and help you identify key search terms. Databases like Oxford Reference Online can also help.
    Note: Because Wikipedia is created through crowd-sourcing, evaluate Wikipedia pages by considering, for example, their references, length, and history (see the 'View history' and 'Talk' tabs).
  • If there are journals related to the area you are studying and you're brainstorming possible topics, look through recent tables of contents for ideas and background information. Search the eJournals list.

When using journals to brainstorm possible topics, search the eJournals list by using keywords related to your area of study or area of interest. As an example, search "media psychology." Next, select a relevant journal from the list of results. In our example, we selected the Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications. Finally, scan current table of contents for topic ideas or background information. In our example, we scanned the recent table of contents and found articles related to social media and misinformation countermeasures. Either of these could be potential topics for a research project, or could provide helpful background information.