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Choosing and Narrowing a Topic
Getting Topic Ideas
Pro/con databases and websites can be good places to get ideas about current issues:
- Explore the Browse Issues section of the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database for topic ideas (you'll be prompted to log in with your Pipeline information from off campus).
- Explore the issues on the ProCon.org website (this website is freely available and won't require a login).
Library reference sources are a great place to get topic ideas and find objective background information on your topic. They can also help you narrow your topic and discover keywords for further searching.
- Explore the Topic Pages list in the Credo Reference database for topic ideas (you'll be prompted to log in with your Pipeline information from off campus).
Narrowing Your Topic
Try creating a concept map to help you brainstorm topic ideas and narrow your topic.
Finding Background Information
Library reference sources are a great place to get unbiased background information on controversial topics. They can also help you narrow your topic and discover keywords for further searching.
Online Reference Sources
To access this reference database from off campus, you will be prompted to log in with your Pipeline username and password.
Credo Reference This link opens in a new windowContains the full text of over 1,000 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books covering all major subject areas. Thousands of Topics Pages provide articles from different reference sources, arranged by subject. Includes “gadgets” for finding images, definitions, people, pronunciations, quotations, and measurement conversations, as well as a concept map feature for help identifying keywords and broadening or narrowing a topic. Additional features include videos, maps, and animations.
Print Reference Sources
These reference books are available in the Luria Library. Stop at the Reference and Information desk for help finding them.
- Violence in America: An Encyclopedia -- R 303.6 G685v
- Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States -- R 305.800973 M663e
- Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues -- R306.0973 S528e 2011
- American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in U.S. History -- R 306.1 M678a 2009
- Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right -- R 320.03 C283e
- Encyclopedia of Social Problems -- R 361.1 P261e
- Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment -- R 364.03 L665e
Narrowing a Topic
The following video provides strategies for narrowing a topic (from off campus you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password):