Skip to main content

The Research Process: Digging Deeper

The basics of researching and refining a topic.

Step 3: Narrowing the Topic

Based on your findings in books and reference sources, you'll want to narrow down your topic so that you can focus on a few main points. A few ways to do this are:

-Look at the terms used by authors of general works

-Look for the main concepts or issues mentioned in general sources

-Look at citations in general sources (the bibliography at the end of a reference article) or for mentions of experts in the field

Step 4: Finding Articles

This video shows how to find articles through the libraries' databases. To enlarge the video, click on the bottom right corner of the player.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Try Different Databases

Don't just search in one or two databases. Depending on your topic, you might find information in dozens of different databases. Some of the most helpful for art and design topics are:

Magazine or Journal?

You may be required to find scholarly journals for your assignment. Popular magazines are very different from scholarly journals and although they can often be found in the same places, they are not the same type of source.

Popular magazines often

-have lots of pictures

-have content that appeals to a wide range of readers

-are written in light, informal language

Scholarly journals often

-are primarily text

-are written for specialists and researchers

-are written in formal, academic language

-include lots of references in the works cited