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Topic Development  

Ideas for topics, how to narrow a topic, finding general and and detailed information, efficient searching with electronic tools, and citing your sources. THIS IS THE RESEARCH PROCESS AND YOU CAN MASTER IT!
Last Updated: Aug 17, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Take the leap

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Worth the price of tuition...

The best academic advice you may ever receive is


We're faculty too.

We went to graduate school to learn all about information—who disseminates it and how, ways to organize it and store it so it's logical to find, and how to retrieve it.

Our job is to help you become information competent and succeed both as college researchers and as informed, involved citizens. 

If we look busy or cranky it's because we're doing other tasks that aren't nearly as much fun as finding stuff out!  We love the chase.  ASK US—WE'RE HERE FOR YOU!


RESEARCH—the hardest part is getting started

Keep in mind that research is a circular process.  Or maybe it's back and forth, definitely up and down!  You learn as you go—at ALL levels—about the jargon, the issues, persons in the field—and you'll sometimes change your direction and your mind as you poke about and decide what's relevant or interesting.  BUT--if you think "There's nothing on this topic!" ASK a librarian for help.  You may have gotten lost in the information wilderness. 


Here's maybe the SECOND most important piece of academic advice:

When you DO find information, COPY OR NOTE THE CITATION INFO AS YOU GO.  That is, write down titles, authors, call numbers, page numbers, databases used, and/or URLs.  Librarians have a hard time finding that fantastic book you were using if all you know is that it was blue.  Oh, and it was big. 



Now, pretend your brain is a microscope and move your focus in and out….  Use the tabs in this guide to find sources that give you topic overviews, detail, historical viewpoints or current issues and events.


And who ya gonna call if ya get dazed and confused?  YOU GOT IT!

Librarians!  You can call, chat, or e-mail.  Don't hesitate.





Librarians at the ready!

Four ways for help:


Drop in: 

Ft. Steilacoom campus library

  Mon-Thurs   7:30AM – 9PM

  Fri   7:30AM – 4PM

Puyallup campus library

  Mon-Thurs   7:30AM – 9PM

  Fri   7:30AM – 3PM

(summer hours vary)



FS   253/964-6555

PY   253/840-8302




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