(different sections use varying sets of these resources)
(only some RCI instructors require use of specialized encyclopedias, check your research assignments)
1. You can often find helpful encyclopedias in Search It by typing in a search like this – (encyclo* OR dictionar*) AND your topic. “Your topic” should be a keyword or two that best describes your topic, and might need to be placed in a wider context. For example, a topic about human trafficking would need to be searched with broader historical terms such as slavery or prostitution.
2. Search for an encyclopedia article using Oxford Reference Online. To increase the likelihood that your article will be historical in nature, you can pick "history" from the subject list at the top of the search interface. Then perform your keyword search. Oxford Reference will show you individual encyclopedia entries. It will also provide a link to the larger encyclopedia that contains that entry. You can decide whether or not to explore other potentially useful entries within the encyclopedia. [see link to Oxford Reference Online demo video above]
3. Search for an article in SAGE Knowledge, which has a large though by no means comprehensive selection of encyclopedia articles. Once you're in SAGE Knowledge, click advanced search, in the reference content type, you can limit to "encyclopedias" and "dictionaries." Next perform a "full text" search. You will need to examine encyclopedias and their lists of entries to find appropriate material. For example, a search for "South Africa" returned, among others, The Encyclopedia of World Poverty. There is an entry for "South Africa," and the text of the entry contains other potentially useful terms, some that also have entries. These include "apartheid," "colonialism," and "maternal mortality." If the encyclopedia broadly covers a topic of use to you, you can also simply browse the alphabetical list for entries (or chapter titles). You will more than likely find multiple useful entries. [see link to SAGE Knowledge demo video above]
Specialized encyclopedias are different from general encyclopedias as they focus on a particular topic, culture, time period, event, etc. Although they are most often structured like general encyclopedias in that they have alphabetic sets of entries, they provide much more depth concerning their subject matter.. Click the Librarian Coach for a hint on what to do if you get stuck.
What is a research question? A research question is a clear, focused, concise, and arguable question on which you center your research and writing.
Here are six tips on how to prepare a research question:
The biggest problem that most students have with this aspect of the project is posing historical questions. Here’s an example: