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Library Research at Winthrop: Find Your

Identify Your Topic

Begin by Identifying a Preliminary Topic

If you haven't picked a topic yet, scroll down to the next box--Suggestions for Finding a Topic.

State your topic idea as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?"

Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question. In this case they are alcoholic beverages, health, and college students.

Suggestions for Finding a Topic

Discuss your topic ideas with your class instructor.

Discuss your topic ideas with a reference librarian. It may be wise to set up a research consultation. You can contact us at the desk  or use our Book a Librarian program to schedule one today!

Browse likely topics using Credo General ReferenceSAGE Reference Online 2011 Encyclopedia Collection, or Points of View Reference Center 

Explore current topics and events using h NewsBank, Newspaper Source Plus, and our other Newspaper databases!

Browse our Research Guides.


Develop Your Topic

Test Your Topic

Test the main concepts or keywords in your topic by looking them up in the appropriate background sources or by using them as search terms in the Library Catalog or our databases.

If you are finding too much information and too many sources, narrow your topic by using the and operator: stress and health and college students, for example.

Finding too little information may indicate that you need to broaden your topic. For example, look for information on students, rather than college students. Link synonymous search terms with or: stress or anxiety or mental health. Use truncation (i.e., stress*) with search terms to broaden the search and increases the number of items you find.

Reference Help

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Cody Walters

Collective Commons agreement with Cornell University

This guide has been adapted from the Seven Steps guide at Cornell University found here: