Choosing a Topic
Choosing a topic can be one of the most difficult parts of the research process. Remember that research is fluid; your topic will adapt, and even completely change, as you do your research!
This short video [3:11] from North Carolina State University gives some great advice on choosing a research topic.
Getting To Know Your Topic
When you don't know much about your topic, or even if you think you do, start your research by getting background information. This means use Google, and Wikipedia, and encyclopedias. You should never cite these sources, or use them as primary sources of information. Use them to guide you through your research and to help you get a basic understanding of your topic.
Google Search Tips
Limit your results to a specific site, or type of site by using site:
- The search agriculture site:.gov will find results ending in .gov, which are government websites.
- The search agriculture site:colostate.edu will find results that are within the CSU websites.
Use quotation marks " " around phrases or titles.
- "soil conservation" will find results talking about soil conservation, not about conservation that just mentions soil.
Mark important words with a +
- If you want to make sure a word or phrase shows up in your results, but a + in front: +"soil conservation"
Eliminate resutls with a -
- A minus sign (-) works the same as NOT: soil -conservation (Be careful when using!)
Limit your results by file type by using filetype:
- filetype:pdf finds PDFs, while filetype:.ppt will find PowerPoints.
Broaden your search
- Use OR the same way you would in a library database to get more results (soil OR dirt).
- Using a tilde (~) before a word will find synonyms.
See the GoogleGuide for more tips.
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