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  • *Lindsey Wilson Library: Research Assistance

    We are here to help!

    We want to see you succeed in school and life!

    The library has a wealth of knowledge and an extensive "toolbox" that we want to share with you.
    We are available and ready to help with any question you may have!
    Don't be shy!
    Stop by any time or send us a message if we are unavailable.
    Tim and Ashley are your reference librarians.
    Greg, Kim, Amelia, and Hunter are also here for you!

    Topic LibGuides to check out.

    Topics on this page.

    How to Select or Find Topics


    Use the resources below in the beginning stages of the research process. Each link provides steps and processes for research, as well as topic ideas.

    TIP: The librarians love CREDO Reference as our electronic encyclopedia.


    Whether you are given a list of topics to choose from or selecting a topic of choice, your selection is incredibly important.  For instance, if you select a topic that does not interest you or that is too broad or narrow, it will impact the finished product of your work.  Below are some strategies to utilize when deciding on a topic.

    • Brainstorm
    • Select a topic that will have enough supporting information
    • Select a topic that will be manageable (i.e. not too broad or narrow)
    • Use keywords and synonyms effectively
    • Remember that topics with research must be malleable (subject to change throughout the research process)
    • Define your topic
    • State the context of your topic (Remember that the same topic when applied to different subject areas have different meanings)
    • Understand your topic (Do reference research to ensure you know a little about what you are writing about before beginning the research process)
    • Use your topic to generate a thesis statement



    Scholarly Vs Popular Sources

    Scholarly Journals

    "Academic" or "Research"

    Popular Newspaper & Magazines

    "General" or "Journalistic"

    Authors are named and usually affiliated with an institution. Authors are potentially anonymous.
    Authors are subject matter experts. Authors are journalists.
    Articles are peer-reviewed. Articles are not peer-reviewed.
    Citation lists are lengthy and extensive. Citation lists are little to non-existent.
    Advertisements are limited. Advertisements are everywhere.
    Articles are lengthy and very detailed. Articles are shorter and focus on general points.
    Issues are published on a less frequent basis (semi-annually, quarterly, monthly). Issues are published frequently (daily, weekly, monthly).
    Target audiences are professionals, academics, and students. Target audiences are the general public.
    Titles typically include words like bulletin, journal, or review. Titles do not typically include words like  bulletin, journal, or review.
    Except "The Wall Street Journal," which is not a scholarly publication.


    Primary Sources

    What are primary sources?

    Primary sources are first-hand accounts. These sources did directly witness what happened or participate in an event. For example, witnesses create original documents like the Constitution or watched events like the Lindsey football team winning their first championship. 

    Check out the library's in-house archives and special collections department for primary sources for materials dating back to the 1860s!

    What are secondary sources?

    Secondary sources are second-hand accounts. These sources did not directly witness what happened or participate in an event. For example, visitors to the Corvette Museum learn about the sinkhole that happened there in 2014. They share their knowledge with friends and family because they learned about it *from a primary source*, which is the museum.


    For additional information, check out this online guide:

    The Library has two departments with resources available that are considered primary sources.

    1) Archives & Special Collections

    Learn about history of LWC, the city of Columbia, the commonwealth of Kentucky, and more! Ask one of the library staff members to access this collection. It has restricted access in order to preserve the collection. Some of the items are more than 150 years old.

    For more information, click this link.

    2) Government Documents

    Katie Murrell Library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. 

    For assistance with Government Documents in the library, contact Amelia Thomas at or click this link for the Government Documents LibGuide, which has more information on this department.

    CRAAP-O Test

    Let's make sure that those sources you use for your assignments are reliable and credible. There are many sources out there claiming to the real information when, really, they aren't. To make sure they are not "crappy," let's apply the CRAAP-O test!

    • Currency
      When is the publication date? Do the links work? Has the source been updated at all and, if so, when?
    • Relevance
      Who is the audience? Does the information relate to your topic? Have you evaluated other sources first to double-check this information? Is the intended audience of an appropriate age?
    • Authority
      Who is the author? Are they credible in their field? Who is the publisher / sponsor / source? Is there any contact information? What does the main URL show?
    • Accuracy
      Are there any spelling / grammar errors? Is it unbiased or free of emotion? Is there evidence to support the information? Where does the it come from? Did anyone or an organization review it?
    • Purpose & Objectivity
      What is the purpose of it? Are the messages clear? Are there any biases? Does it appear to be a fact, an opinion, or other?

    No one should ever have CRAAP-y information in any capacity. Remember this acronym and you will always find good stuff!


    Source: Blakeslee, Sarah (2004) "The CRAAP Test," LOEX Quarterly: Vol. 31 : No. 3 , Article 4. Available at:

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