Develop Your Topic
Develop Your Topic
1. Understand that topics are organic and grow with research or researcher.
2. Feel comfortable using Wikipedia, Gale, and Google for the purpose of gathering background information and becoming informed.
Use Wikipedia and the Opposing Viewpoints Database to learn more about a topic you are interested in.
Now let’s look at two helpful resources: Wikipedia and the Opposing Viewpoints database by Gale. After clicking through the tabs below, you’ll use these resources yourself. When you use them, take notes on what you learn about your subjects of interest. Also, keep track of the articles that seem relevant and helpful. Your future self will thank you.
Wikipedia is one of the best launching pads for research. Yes, we did just say that. It’s good to use Wikipedia. Let’s explore the right ways to go about it.
Getting up to speed
First off, Wikipedia is a great way to get up to speed on a topic you may not be well-versed in. Wikipedia, like any source, shouldn’t be used in isolation—it’s important to use a variety of sources when researching—but it’s a great starting place with a lot of hyperlinked text to help you understand concepts as you read.
Furthermore, you can read to be inspired by certain subtopics on a Wikipedia page. If you’re interested in crypto-currency but don’t know what aspects to explore, a wikipedia page can help you get a little more focused!
A final reason (we maybe saved the best for last…) to use Wikipedia is because it is often a jackpot for scholarly resources. Think of it as a map that can point you into different directions for research and learning. If there are articles in the references that seem interesting, open them in new tabs and start exploring!
The Opposing Viewpoints database by Gale might be one of the most helpful resources for you as you research. Watch this video to get acquainted. (You’ll be glad you know how to use it.)
The Opposing Viewpoints database can help you understand many of the perspectives of current issues being discussed by people today.
Google has been one of the largest influences on the state of the internet. Practically EVERYBODY uses Google. And that’s because it is super, duper helpful. It’s user friendly and gives us info quickly. We type in a question and get an answer.
When does the sun set? 6:29 PM.
What are the lyrics to Kanye’s new song? “See this in 3D, all lights out for me…”
How many types of potatoes exist? Hundreds.
Google it. Get your answer. Just like that.
…but wise people use Google with a grain of salt. Maybe even a few grains.
Because Google relies on the words typed in the search bar, good researchers are conscious of the words they use. For example, if you type “minimum wage problems,” Google tries to give you sources that say minimum wage is a problem. A strong bias is likely already built in to the sources you see. Similarly, even though the terms “illegal aliens” and “immigrants” are getting at a similar concept, searching one term over the other will lead you to very different results.
So when using Google:
- Be mindful of the keywords you use to search
- Be critical of the sources Google provides you with
- Look past the first page 🙂
1. Pick one or two of your topics from the text box above and spend time on Wikipedia and the Opposing Viewpoints Database to learn a bit about them.
2. Type a paragraph describing what you learned about your topic from these resources.