Tutorial: Choosing a research paper topic
Getting started - planning and finding background info on topic
Finding Background Information
These online sources can help you to choose and refine your topic. They will also provide you with the background information and keywords and search terms.
- CQ ResearcherCQ Researcher provides in-depth coverage of important issues of the day. Reports are written by experienced journalists, footnoted, and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects in demand.
- Public AgendaThis free site provided extensive information on current and controversial issues such as abortion and legal gaming, the family, education etc. Each segment has an overview, facts and trends, different perspectives, links to news stories, and results of public opinion polls.
- Opposing Viewpoints in ContextFind articles on current issues, including viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, magazine and newspaper articles.
Tutorial: What does it mean to be a scholarly source?
Tutorial: Creating an effective search strategy
Use library databases to find sources from academic journals, magazines, newspapers
- Academic Search PremierA great place to start your research on any topic, search multidisciplinary, scholarly research articles. This database provides access to scholarly and peer reviewed journals, popular magazines and other resources. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- Google Scholar (Setup connection to get to PDFs)Use Google Scholar to find articles from academic publishers, professional societies, research institutes, and scholarly repositories from colleges and universities. If you are using from off-campus access, change the "Library Settings" to University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Look for the "FindIt@U of M Twin Cities" links in your Google Scholar search results to access full text and PDFs. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- JSTORFind full text articles in academic journals or books on the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. JSTOR provides articles from the journal's first issue. In some cases the most recent 2-5 years may not be available. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- Libraries SearchSearch the University of Minnesota Libraries to find books, scholarly journal articles, news, magazines, media, and other items in the University's collection. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
Search and find newspapers and magazines
- Ethnic NewsWatchEthnic NewsWatch is a current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press from 1990, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives.
- U.S. Newsstream This link opens in a new windowSearch the most recent premium U.S. news content, as well as archives which stretch back into the 1980s featuring newspapers, newswires, blogs, and news sites in active full-text format.
Guide for reading magazines, current news, commentary, and opinion
This guide is a selected collection of current journals and magazines of news, commentary, and opinion. Here is a sample of what is sometimes called 'Long form journalism" -- longer, in-depth articles written by journalists but usually about or with experts like researchers or professors. They are written with less jargon then scholarly journal articles and are great sources to consult as you learn more about a topic. They feature stories about current or controversial topics. You can "browse" and read current issues or search.
Find statistics and public opinion
- Statistical Insight This link opens in a new windowSearch statistical publications from US and state government agencies, international intergovernmental organizations, professional and trade organizations, business organizations, commercial publishers, independent research organizations, and universities.
- iPoll (Roper Center for Public Opinion Research) This link opens in a new windowiPOLL is a collection of polling sources from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. It includes surveys from 150 polling organizations that include all major news outlets, Gallup polls, and other research institutions. Use these polls to compare public opinion from 1935-present on a range of issues.
- Polling the Nations This link opens in a new windowPolling the Nations is an online database of public opinion polls containing the full text of 700,000+ questions and responses, from 18,000+ surveys and 1,700+ polling organizations, conducted from 1986 through the present in the United States and more than 100 other countries around the world. Limited to 4 simultaneous users.
Citing your sources (e.g. MLA, APA, etc.)
- Citation Managers (e.g. Zotero, EndNote Online, etc.)Citation managers are software packages used to create personalized databases of citation information and notes. They allow you to: import and organize citation information from article indexes and other sources; save links to pdfs and other documents; format citations for your papers and bibliographies using APA and many other styles; and include your own notes.
Many article databases (e.g. Academic Search Premier, Google Scholar) will create a citation for you. After you found the item, look for "cite" or "quotes." Here are examples:
In Google Scholar:
In Academic Search Premier:
- Chicago Manual of Style OnlineThis resource provides online access to the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, which covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and citation formating. The citation quick guide covers both the author-date and the notes and bibliography systems.
- Citation and research help (from Purdue OWL)Examples and instructions for how to cite many types of materials in MLA, APA, Chicago, and AMA styles.
Learn more about on annotated bibliographies
Annotated Bibliography from UW-Madison
An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or “annotation.”
- How to write an annotated bibliographyLearn more about annotated bibliographies.
- Writing Evaluative Annotated BibliographiesThis chapter includes useful questions to guide you in writing annotations for an annotated bibliography.
Library research guides for current issues and topics
Doing research about current topics can challenging because the facts and stories continue to evolve. They are also impacted by the long and complex issues and histories underlying all events.
The following guides might be helpful to you as you do research on your topic.
Policing and race
by Kate Peterson Last Updated May 16, 2023 65 views this year
Race, white privilege, anti-racism - Research Guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Feb 24, 2023 183 views this year
TikTok, Instagram, and social media research guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Feb 3, 2023 180 views this year
Housing, racial covenants, redlining, and segregation - research guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Nov 2, 2022 456 views this year
Library Resources for Transgender Topics
by Jen Neveau Last Updated Jan 31, 2023 900 views this year
Covid-19 and Coronavius Research Guide (finding sources and articles ABOUT Covid-19)
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Mar 30, 2023 25 views this year
Education disparities, inequality and segregation - Research Guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated May 16, 2023 35 views this year
Health disparities, health care inequality, and policy - Research Guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Feb 24, 2023 29 views this year
American Indians in Minnesota: Topics and Issues
by Kat Nelsen Last Updated Jan 27, 2022 474 views this year
Guide for researching conspiracy theories and mystery topics
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Feb 24, 2023 1127 views this year
Protest, activism and dissent - Research Guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Jun 28, 2022 88 views this year
Research Guide on the Conflict in Ukraine
by Brian Vetruba Last Updated Mar 30, 2023 1522 views this year
Climate change, energy, environment and sustainability topics research guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated May 16, 2023 38 views this year
Trauma and abuse research guide
by Kate Peterson Last Updated Feb 3, 2023 51 views this year
WRIT 1301 Sports research guide
by Theresa Heitz Last Updated Apr 13, 2023 24 views this year