Introduction to Research Tutorials

Learn basic research skills with these short tutorials.

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Find Background Information

Find Background Information

When starting a new research project, figuring out where to begin and how to narrow down your topic can be difficult. It is helpful to start by looking for background information on your topic. Even if your topic is still broad, try looking for background information by searching in online encyclopedias or by doing a general Google search. Use these sources to find subtopics and relevant vocabulary associated with your topic. This new vocabulary will help you with your keyword searches. 

Here are some examples of online reference sources to help you find background information on your research topic: 

Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping is a way to visualize your topic and break it down into smaller more manageable research areas. Use concept mapping at the beginning of the research process to help you find different aspects of your topic that you may want to focus on. You can use online reference sources to help you find different concepts and keywords related to your research topic. You do not need to include every single possible angle of your topic. Your concept map for one topic will probably look different from another person's concept map on the same topic. You can continue to build on your concept map throughout the research process. 

For example, if you were interested in doing a project on Amazon River Dolphins, you might make a concept map like the one below:

From this concept map, you might decide to do a project comparing the conservation efforts for the Amazon river dolphin to those for a similar species, the Ganges River dolphin.