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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

HIST 498: Orientalism and Its Critics: Developing A Research Paper

How do we study the history and culture of a people unknown to ourselves without projecting our own values and views upon them?

The Research Process

Learn: Insider's Guide to the Library: The Research Process

Strategies for Focusing Your Research

Strategies for focusing a broad research topic

Are you overwhelmed with how much information you are finding?  Try the suggestions below:

1. Develop a tentative focus  
List what you already know and questions you have about the topic and focus on those you find most interesting.

2. Find background information on your topic   
Check our Electronic Reference Collection for an article in an online encyclopedia you can trust.  

3. Look for magazine articles  
Magazine articles tend to be shorter and can provide a general idea of key issues or controversies related to your topic. Try:

4. Search CQ Researcher 
This is a great source for finding background information and overviews of a wide array of topics.

5. Choose a particular perspective on the issue 
How do scholars from different subject fields approach your topic? Finding different points of view can provide you with a better sense of direction. Look through our subject-specific databases listed on the Find Articles page: 

6. Limit your search to a specific time period  
Look for date limit options when searching a database.

Need more help? Ask a Librarian for assistance.

Citation Help!