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Local Action Project: Starting your Research

Do your Presearch

Often you will need to gather some background information on your topic before you decide on a narrower focus.  Ask yourself:
  • What do I already know?
  • What do I need to find out?
  • What information would help me answer my questions?
Initially, you may want to read some general resources to gain a better understanding of your topic.  Then, you can narrow your search by asking yourself:
  • What keywords can I use to search?
  • What synonyms, broader or narrower terms, or related ideas could I use?
  • Will proper names (people or places) focus my search?

Areas to Consider

Listed below are just a few of the topics you might want to investigate to narrow your topic futher; also note that the topics below are very broad and would still need to be narrowed down significantly.  If you want to browse even more ideas, go to Gale Opposing VIewpoints and click on Browse Issues.

Health: Communicable Health, Environmental Health, Women's Health, Mental Health, Health Education, Natural Disasters

Homelessness: Housing, Employment, Mental Illness, Poverty, Health Care, Legal Issues, Access to Food, Substance Abuse, Natural Disasters

Transportation: Metrolink, River Transport, Roads and Highways, Airport, Employment, Housing, Urban Development, Access to Food

 

Find Books in the Catalog

Interview Tips

Get organized! Have your questions prepared before hand or use the promps in the document below.

Know about your subject. Do your background research so you can ask intelligent questions and expand the conversation when necessary.

Record the QUESTION and the ANSWER. Even if you edit out the question you still need to know what the subject was responding to.

Keep your questions short. Avoid overly complicated questions and the let the subject tell their story

Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No"

Don't pretend to know more about your topic than you actually do. Your interview subject will be able to tell. Be yourself. Ask them a question if you need more info.

Do not stay "stuck" to the prepared question set. One of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced interviewers (who themselves might be nervous) make is to just ask the questions on the sheet and not to listen to the answers. You need to pay close attention to the answers so that you can ask intelligent follow-up questions. Follow-up questions to answers are sometimes where the most interesting answers come from. Practice with your partners in not only asking questions from the prepared question set but also improvising new questions when interesting new angles arise from the conversation.

Do not rush through the question sheet The interview is not a race. In fact, those who finish first lose since they have not asked follow-up questions and have not engaged in a free-ranging dialogue with their subject. Listen to the interviewer and pursue interesting detours in the conversation with follow-up questions..

Databases to Explore

Trustworthy News Sources

If you are having any trouble accessing the news sources below, please let Ms. Voss know. 

These databases pull current issues and articles from many traditional news and magazine sources. If you are looking for a specific publication, go to the advanced search and search by publication title.

Other Important Resources

Statistics and Data

Popular vs. Scholarly Journals

 

Popular Journals (Magazines and Newspapers)

Scholarly Journals

Authors

Reporters, journalists

Researchers, scholars, professors

Purpose

Inform, persuade, entertain

Report on research, educate

Audience

General public      

Researchers, experts, students in the field

Writing Style and Vocabulary

Simple, accessible writing and vocabulary

Sophisticated, high-level writing; technical, discipline-specific vocabulary

 Sources

Not cited     

Cited with footnotes or bibliography

 Advertising

Extensive         

 Announcements for conferences, publications in the field

Graphics

Photographs, glossy covers     

Charts, tables, statistical data

Publishers

Commercial, For-profit   

Professional society, university, or non-profit organization

Peer-reviewed?

No

Yes, articles miust meet rigorous standards and be reviewed by a panel of experts before being accepted for publication

Examples

Time

New York Times

Sports Illustrated

The Economist

The Week

New England Journal of Medicine

International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

Journal of African American History

Pacific Historical Review

Modern Fiction Studies

 

Helpful Books