Brief Preliminary Research

  • Look up your topic in a specialized encyclopedia to learn a bit more about it, and to gather background information:  important names, dates, places, etc.  You may have to modify your topic after doing this, depending on what you find. Note:  Some professors do not allow students to use an encyclopedia on their actual works cited lists, but you can still use one informally to get background information and keywords.
  • If you cannot find your topic in an encyclopedia, try locating a web site on the general topic area.  Be sure the web site information is from experts in that subject area!
  • Choose appropriate keywords from the encyclopedia or other resource to help you locate your main research sources later (books, web sites, articles, etc).