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Library Research Tutorial: Adapted from Canvas Course

This Research Guide runs through the same information as the Library Tutorial course in Canvas. Use this guide to quickly access that information without needing to log into Canvas, and use it as a refresher for the main points in the Canvas tutorial.

Introduction to Narrowing a Topic

Especially when you're given a topic, using some relatively shallow background research can help focus your direction. For example, in an English class, you might be asked to write a paper on an author in a given genre. If you're given a genre, do some looking into who the most popular authors are, what the most influential books are and who wrote them, etc. If given an author, you can narrow your topic by looking into the events of the person's life on, say, Wikipedia, and choose one notable event.

If I'm looking at the genre of detective fiction, I may go with Agatha Christie as my author. Then, I might look more in-depth into her time as a nurse during WWI and how that experience influenced her novels and stories. 

Doing a cursory internet search of a topic can give insight into what kind of information exists on the topic, as well as help provide you with context necessary to find something about the topic that interests you. 

At this stage, you can also do a quick search of one or two library databases to see if research exists on your narrowed topic. It is possible to get too specific. Going back to the movies example, I may find plenty of information on Charlie Chaplin, but not so much on one of his more obscure films.