TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University

Tips on Researching and Writing a Paper

Choose a topic

Ask yourself these questions:
        Am I interested in the topic?
        Will I enjoy researching this topic?
        Will I enjoy talking about this topic?
        Will my audience be interested in this topic?
        Can I use the research  in another assignment?

Check out these resources for topic ideas:
CQ Researcher.  Library has print issues from 1991+   Reference H 35 E352 
Each issue of the CQ Researcher covers a different topic.  This is a good source for gaining background information on a topic as well as gathering different points of view.  Each issue presents questions about the topic, gives background material and opposing viewpoints, reprints some articles on the topic, and provides a bibliography for further reading.
Topic Selection Helper

Opposing Viewpoints

Limit your topic

Look for your topic in the Library Catalog.  Choose LC Subject search.  Look at the headings and subheadings that are listed--this may give you an idea of an aspect of a topic that interests you.  For example, see the subject search for chocolate.

Find an overview of your topic in an encyclopedia (general or subject).  As you read the article you may have some new ideas for an aspect of the topic you might consider.

Here are some more ideas to consider:
    Limit your topic to a specific person.   Milton Hershey
 Limit your topic to a specific organization.  Hershey Foods Corporation
    Limit to a particular geographical area or ethnic group.  chocolate factories in the United States
Limit to a particular time period.    chocolate industry in the 20th century    
Limit to a particular aspect of the topic.  chocolate and health
Combine any of the above. 
Contrast the treatment of a topic in various newspapers, magazines, or other media.
    Look at the way the topic is viewed in movies.

Find information

Use Credo Reference to find background information on your subject.

Find books on your topic using the Library Catalog.  However, if there are many books on your topic, you have chosen one that is too broad. 

If Pickler Memorial Library doesn't have what you want, try your search in MOBIUS to find books in other libraries in Missouri.  You can order books online and they will be delivered usually within 3-4 working days. 

Look for periodical articles using a general database like  Academic Search Complete or ArticleFirst.  Use LexisNexis for newspaper articles.

Consider the discipline that you are working with (philosophy, psychology, medicine, etc.) and look at the Library's SubjectsPlus page.  These will list reference books, databases, Web sites, etc.

Points of View.  A Pickler Library Research Guide that helps you find sources that give different viewpoints.

Search the Web--but be careful and evaluate your sources!

Call a Reference Librarian at 785-4051.  He or she can help you decide which databases would be best, how to structure a good search, etc.

Spice up your speeches with....

Statistical Abstract of the United States.  Reference HA 202 A32
    Also available online.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.  Reference PN 6081 B27 1992
    Also available online.
Cassell's Humorous Quotations.  Reference PN 6084 H8 C37 2001

Best Book of Puns.  PN 6231 P8 M58 1988
Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor.  Reference PS 438 N55 2000

Make your bibliography

Citation Tools  ---Selected guides to help you cite sources correctly in APA, Chicago/Turabian, and MLA styles.









Encouraging Discovery