One of the greatest challenges when writing a paper is not just picking a topic, but narrowing it down to something manageable. One of the best ways to do this is to use reference materials. A reference article will give you the history and background and an overview of a large topic and usually include controversial aspects and suggest what research needs to be done on this topic in the future. Within the article you will find key terms, people, events. There will usually be a bibliography of further readings to explore.
When looking for reference material, it is important to recognize that there are basically two kinds: short reference articles giving little more than a definition and longer in-depth articles which give you the kind of coverage mentioned above. The latter are the kind of articles you are looking for. As you read the articles, look for ways to focus and narrow down your search. Look for terms you can use in searching and refining.
The box below allows you to search Summon for only reference material. You may want to add further filters, such as date and discipline (look at the left hand column). Remember that you will turn up both kinds of reference article, the short kind and the more detailed kind - which is the kind you are looking for. Also in some cases you will not be directed to the specific article, but rather to the homepage of the reference book. Just search the topic you want (it will be on the sidebar to the right) and you will find the article.
Summon, our Web Scale Discovery software, allows you to easily find content in e-Reference books. It does not cover ALL our e-Reference books, but new material is being added all the time
Here are some examples of reference sources which will include articles that might help you get backgrounds, overviews and possible focus for your topics. They are all indexed in Summon and can be searched either directly or by using the Summon e-Reference search box at the top of this page.
Below are two Current Issues databases: Points of View Reference Center and CQ Researcher. Both are indexed in Summon, so results will show up in the searchbox to the right, however you may want to use them on their own platforms.
There are plenty of others!
Each single-themed, 12,000-word report is researched and written by a seasoned journalist. The consistent, reader-friendly organization provides researchers with an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.