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Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Welcome to the Research Planning Guide

Step 3: Gain Working Knowledge About the Topic

Now it's time to gain some basic background knowledge of your topic in order to develop a research question or thesis statement.  By familiarizing yourself with the topic, you will have a better chance of conducting efficient research, using relevant sources and appropriate search terms.

How can you get a working knowledge?  The best option for someone would be reference books.

Note: Reference books cannot be checked out, but you can use them in the library, take picture, or make copies of them.

  • General encyclopedias
  • Special-topic dictionaries & encyclopedias
  • "Companion" volumes to people, groups, events, schools of thought, etc.

The DBU Library has a lot of these, both online and on the shelves.  Our collection of Oxford Online Reference Titles (see link below) is a great place to start. 

What about Wikipedia?

Many professors will not let you cite Wikipedia as a source because it can be edited by anyone. But does that mean you shouldn't use it at all?

 Wikipedia can be a good place to find preliminary research, for your topic, IF YOU'RE CAREFUL. Wiki entries that include references to other resources could lead you to important articles.   But stay away from articles that say "Citation needed" or that have bibliographies that are nothing more than lists of other websites.