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Choosing a Topic. Ideas? Dewey Decimal System. How to Narrow a topic. Make a list of information that you already know about the topic Make a list of questions that you would like to answer READ—BUT WHAT?????. Background reading will help. Subject encyclopedias--browse

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Choosing a topic

Choosing a Topic


Dewey Decimal System

How to narrow a topic
How to Narrow a topic

  • Make a list of information that you already know about the topic

  • Make a list of questions that you would like to answer

  • READ—BUT WHAT?????

Background reading will help
Background reading will help

  • Subject encyclopedias--browse

  • Wikipedia (I know you will go there) It offers valuable hyperlinks and “related topics”

  • Databases (general) EBSCOHost, Academic Search Premier

  • Databases (specific) will vary with topic (ask librarian)

Narrow by choosing a perspective
Narrow by choosing a Perspective

  • Historical

  • Sociological

  • Psychological

  • Example:

  • “Scholars from different subject fields will approach your topic from different angles and will bring different points of view to bear on the subject. A specialist in genetics will approach the topic genetic engineering of plants differently than a nutritionist, an environmentalist, or an economist.”


Narrow by limiting
Narrow by Limiting

  • Time period

  • Place

  • Group or person

  • Aspects


    General Topic: fashion

    Time span:1920s

    Place: US; urban; big cities (not rural)

    Person or group: youth; college age

    Event or Aspects: sexual attitudes; behavior; sociological

Ask yourself questions
Ask yourself Questions

  • What do you know about it? What don't you know?

  • What aspects of your topic interest you: historical, sociological, psychological, etc.?

  • What time period do you want to cover?

  • On what geographic region do you want to focus?

  • What kind of information do you need?

    • A brief summary or a lengthy explanation?

    • Periodical articles, books, essays, encyclopedia articles?

    • Statistics?

Be flexible
Be Flexible

Be prepared to be flexible with your topic idea!

  • If it 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. In that case, you will need to broaden your idea.

Keep a record of your sources
Keep a record of your sources

  • Journal

  • Laptop—file

  • Use NoodleBib, easybib, Googledocs?

  • Whatever your mode of record keeping, be consistent with keeping track of your sources and where they are located, in addition to the DD# of books.

Oh the places you will search
Oh, the places you will search!

  • HS catalog (a start)

  • HS databases

  • All other libraries--public and county—You must go down to CPL to register your GA card in order to use their databases. They also have subject specialty librarians who can recommend databases and books to you.

  • Journal Finder is the Database to get full text articles

  • Special libraries—art museum, Natural History museum…

  • Google Books and Google Scholar

Ccpl cuyahoga county pl
CCPL(Cuyahoga County PL)

  • Located in Beachwood at Shaker and Richmond Roads

  • You must go there to have them update your card so that you can use their collection and their databases. (They do have Jewish News archives)

  • OHIOLink—you can order a book from most any college library. To get to it, click on “Classic Catalog.” Look on the right and click on the link.

  • Find books on your topic and place a hold, sending them to Beachwood branch. This is an excellent source for books.