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A guide to Biology resources in UVic Libraries

Identify a Research Topic/Question

It can be a challenge to determine an essay topic or a research question. Here you will find a how-to guide and useful tools to explore as you consider potential research questions.

Step One Evaluate how much you know about the topic and do some prelimianry searches to explore the topic. Use any of the following tools to explore a potential topic, looking for background information, related issues, and good summaries.

  • Library Encyclopedia : This is a list of online encyclopedias in the libraries' collection. Browse and search for a topic of interest.
  • Summon Search : In the search box, put in your topic keywords along with the keyword "overview". For example, "solar activity overview"
  • Google Wonder Wheel : This tool provides related sub-topics linking to Google Scholar articles. You need to know how to evaluate the information.
  • Wikipedia

Step Two Read the overview material found in step one to gain a good understanding of the scope of the topic, and to explore subtopics or related topics, key issues, different opinions, key figures, places and so on. As you read, record keywords or terms that you think may be useful for your future search.

Step Three Select one or two more articles to read for collecting backgrounding information. List additional keywords.

Step Four  Draft your research question and start searching in a Libraries database using the keywords you have recorded. A good place to start searching for journal articles, for Biology students, is the Web of Science database. Other article databases are listed under the Find Articles tab of this Subject Guide.

Note:  This page has been adapted from an original page created by Ying Lui, another UVic Subject Librarian.

Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.