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African American Studies: Getting Started


Resources for Finding Topics

Instructions for Using CQ Researcher (prepared by Katie Meyer)

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Research Consultations

If you are a student or faculty member who would like one-on-one help with a reference librarian, contact Katie Meyer (270) 706-8443 or Laurie MacKellar (270) 706-8439 to set up a research appointment.


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Laurie Mackellar

Getting Started

Research Steps

Selecting a topic

You may get some ideas from your textbook, lectures or class discussion. Maybe your instructor will assign or suggest topics. You may get ideas from news sites or reference resources such as CQ Researcher.  The Topics box on this page will list some topics.

Background Reading

Never skip this step. You may do background reading more than once during your research process. When you are looking for topics do some background reading on topics suggested by your instructor or listed under the TOPICS box.

Where do you go for background reading? Print encyclopedias, online encyclopedias. Your textbook. General overview web resources.

Perhaps you choose the Great Migration from the Topics list. What can you do with the Great Migration? You learn from your background reading that the migration influenced music. So you may choose to research the Great Migration and its impact on music. You may still find the topic too broad. So you decide to narrow it to a specific region. You know from your background reading that Detroit was a site of major musical developments.

Phrase your topic as a question. How did the Great Migration influence music in Detroit?


Begin thinking about keywords. You use keywords to search the various catalogs and databases. You have three keywords/phrases here – Great Migration, music and Detroit. More background reading will give you more words to use – names of musicians and producers, words used to describe musical trends or particular sounds.

Once you have your search terms you can begin searching. You may want to start with books. Try to locate books on your topic. We have print books and we have the eBook collections. You will also look for magazine, journal and newspaper articles, reliable open access websites. You may also find useful some of the documentaries available through Films on Demand.

Evaluating Resources

Evaluating Resources

Make sure that the resources you choose are credible. Not sure? Look at the Evaluating Resources guide prepared by ECTC's Library Director