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Topic Development

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  • 1. Topic Selection and Development
  • 2. Topic Selection
    • Most courses you have the luxury of choosing your own paper topic within the discipline, some courses you do not.
    • Some things to keep in mind are:
      • Choose something of interest to you.
      • Make sure your topic is manageable.
      • Choose a project you can finish in the time allotted.
      • Choose your approach: analytical, argumentative, narrative, chronological, humorous, serious.
    • No matter what, have a clear understanding of what your topic is. You may have to fine tune your topic from time to time, but never lose sight of what your paper is about.
  • 3. Topic Development
    • Step One: Choose your area of interest
    • Step Two: Choose you area of focus
    • Step Three: Refine to a more specific research question.
    • Step Four: Think about how you are going to approach your topic
    • Step Five: Think about the types of information you need to answer your research question.
  • 4. Where to Find Background Information & Terminology
    • Subject Dictionaries
      • Dictionary of Environment & Conservation Dictionary of Ecology Available online from WSU Libraries
      • Dictionary of Water & Waste Management Available Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Environmental Change GE10 .E536 2001
      • McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Environmental Science GE10 .M378 2003
    • Subject Encyclopedias & Thesauri
      • Encyclopedia of Energy
      • Encyclopedia of Environmental Science & Engineering TD9 .E5 2006 v. 1-2
      • Encyclopedia of Global Change: Environmental Change & Human Society
      • Encyclopedia of Water Science Available online from WSU Libraries
      • Multilingual Thesaurus of Environmental Terms Z695.1.E62 M85x 1997
  • 5. Where to find Articles: Some Subject-Specific Databases
    • Political Science
    • Congressional Lexis-Nexis
    • CQ Researcher Online
    • ICPSR
    • Left Index
    • PAIS International
    • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
    • History
    • America History and Life: US & Canadian History
    • Historical Abstracts: World history, except US & Canada
    • Historical Statistics of the United States
    • History Cooperative
    • JSTOR
  • 6. Selected Databases by Subject
    • Science
    • ACS Journal Search (Chemistry)
    • ARIBIB (Astronomy)
    • BIOSIS (Life Sciences & Biology)
    • Fish & Fisheries World (Ichtyology & fisheries)
    • Index to American Botanical Literature (Botany)
    • SciFinder Scholar
    • Earth & Environmental
    • Sciences
    • AGRICOLA
    • GeoRef
    • ENDEX
    • Energy Citations
  • 7. Web Resources
    • Style Guides
      • WSU Libraries Handouts: Style Guides http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/electric/search/category_results.asp?loc=handouts&cat=style
      • WSU Libraries Virtual Reference Shelf: Citing Sources http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/RefShelf/citing.html
      • APA Style Tips: http://www.apastyle.org/styletips.html
      • Chicago Manual of Style Online: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html
    • Evaluating Information Resources
      • UC Berkeley: Critical Evaluation of Resources http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/evaluation.html
      • Cornell University: Critically Analyzing Information Sources http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill26.htm
  • 8. Karenann Jurecki 131 Owen meebo/kjurecki [email_address]