How do you know what to research when researching a topic you know nothing about? This might sound like a riddle, but it’s actually a common issue for students starting a research paper, and one that leads to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed.
One way to get started is doing a little “presearch”–that’s the research you do prior to starting your research so you can get a feel for your subject; narrow down your topic; develop an understanding of the major players, dates and themes; and choose some keywords that truly are key to the field. And the best place for this is using an Encyclopedia!
Encyclopedias can give you to-the-point background information on your topic written by authoritative, scholarly sources. Credo Reference is one of the largest reference collection databases the library subscribes to.
To get there, go to the library homepage and click on the Encyclopedias & More Icon.
Credo Reference is the first link. Click on the link and you’ll see the homepage.
From here you’ll be able to do a simple keyword search (in the above example, I’m searching for “black holes”), you can search just by images or create a mind map (a visual, interactive tool that allows you to explore connections and relationships between different subjects), or browse the available full-text reference collections by subject.
Here’s how to break down your results page:
- Topic Pages are summaries of the subject matching your keywords. The three most relevant Topic Pages will be displayed and presents an overview of what you might find in your reference entries.
- Reference Entries gives you full-text articles from specialized encyclopedias, which provide you with more specific information written by professionals. Click on the entry heading to read the article.
- Narrow your search allows you to filter your results–another method you can use to narrow in on your topic!
- If you like this subject and found your search terms useful, use them again without having to go back to the library website! Just click on these links and you can do the exact same search using other library resources.
You can also scroll all the way to the bottom of the article to find the pre-formated citation waiting for you!
Notice there is a warning to make sure you verify the citation is correct before turning in your paper!