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UNST 242g Leading Social Change - Dardis: Get Started

Welcome to your Library Course Guide

Welcome to your Portland State University Library (PSU) course guide for the sophomore inquiry cluster, Leading Social Change! Here you will find useful information about Library resources and services to support your college success! Take time to browse the web pages that you can access from the navigation bar. There are videos and screenshots that describe key ways to approach your research for papers and presentations.

If you have any questions, Ask a Librarian!

Get to Know Your Topic - Background Information

Before you start searching for sources, you need to know the nuts and bolts of your topic.  Background information will help you:

  • Understand the basic elements of your topic
  • Narrow and focus your research question
  • Determine relevant keywords and search terms
  • Plan your research

Background research can take many forms, such as general googling or reading a wikipedia article.  However, subject encyclopedias are trustworthy, academic sources written by experts on the subject.  Subject encyclopedia entries, or articles, also include a list of references, or further reading on the subject, that you can also use for your research.  

Search subject encyclopedias at Portland State University Library

Brainstorm Keywords

There are multiple ways to describe one idea or object.  Watch this 2 minute video about the importance of synonyms in searching. 

 

Ask a Librarian

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Questions to Ask About Your Topic

As you start doing general reading to get an overview of your topic, here are some questions you may want to answer in your note-taking:

  1. What interests me about this topic?
  2. What questions do I have about this topic?
  3. Who is affected by this? Who cares about this?
  4. What are the major issues involved in this topic? Are there particular controversies or viewpoints of note?
  5. What key terms describe this topic or are there organizations or people I should be aware of?

Subject Encyclopedias

Scholarly subject encyclopedias provide background information about specific topics. Entries or articles, written by scholars or subject experts, include bibliographies or suggested readings that will lead to more information on your topic.

You can use subject encyclopedias to identify keywords for your research in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Reference & Instruction Librarian

Amy Stanforth's picture
Amy Stanforth
Contact:
Office hours by appointment
Email stanfor2@pdx.edu

Report a Resource or Video Error

The Library strives to provide accessibility to all online content. If a library resource or video is not accessible, or you cannot retrieve it or view it, please let us know using our Report an Error form.