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Where do I begin? - Reading widely on a topic

Using Yahoo and Google aren't the only ways to start reading widely on your topic. Surfing the net can even waste time if your professor expects you to use more specialized and/or scholarly sources. Be sure to check your assignment. Consider these diverse ways of reading widely and wisely:

  • Visit the library's reference collection and consult general reference material for a broad overview of topic. Biographical dictionaries and/or a good encyclopedia are good places to start. There will generally be a bibliography at the end of each entry. This will help you to begin building a reading list.
  • Log on to the library's databases to skim articles, abstracts, and tables of contents for ideas. Remember to use different key words for your search.
  • Skim popular newspapers, journals, and magazines, such as The New York Times and Newsweek for information.
  • Locate topic in time and place. General histories are good sources for beginning to construct a cultural context for your topic.

As you graze in the field of general information, you will gain familiarity with facts, ideas, and names of experts in the field. Once a general base of knowledge has been built, you will be ready to begin narrowing your focus. Hopefully, you have learned something about your topic of special interest to you that will lead to a thesis.