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  • Research Help Guide: 3. "Presearch"

    Use this guide to help you learn about research and perform research yourself for both academic and leisurely activities.


    It's pre-researching! 

    Get to know your topic. Think about what you are interested in and would like to learn more about.  For instance, are you interested in hiking? Try looking up hiking in trails in Kentucky.  Do you enjoy a sport?  May visit the organizational page for the sport that you are interested in and see what is going on in the field.

    If you really get stuck, you can also browse these resources for ideas.

    Choosing a topic

    Whether you a 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 and some websites that contain topic lists for your particular area(s) of study.

    • 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

    Can I use Wikipedia?

    Wikipedia is essentially an online encyclopedia that anyone (including you) can edit.  Like any encyclopedia or other reference resources (i.e. dictionaries, atlases), they are not the "end all be all".  Use them as a tool to help inspire your research.

    Do watch out for any warnings at the bottom of the page.  Because anyone can edit Wikipedia entries, the information may not be accurate, unbiased, contain citations, etc.