Skip to main content

Lamson Library

Open today:  
(full hours)

ME 1100: Music Education

Define the Topic

Define the Topic

You'll find that most topics with which you aren't familiar will use a special vocabulary--words or phrases that have come to be associated with the topic.

To become familiar with the vocabulary, you'll need to read at least one basic article about the issue.  You might look at Wikipedia (but don't use it as a source in your paper).

Make a list, at least mentally, of the words or phrases that you can look for when searching for more information.


1. Look for background information (Check the databases listed below.)

2. Look for mention of people or reports that have studied the problem, and find those reports.

3. Find special terms that might be used to describe your issue, and use those terms in other searches.


There are many places you can look for simple background information.  These are a few of my favorites:

  • Contains hundreds of expert reports on current events, society, and world affairs.
  • More than 15,000 articles • Thousands of tables and graphs • More than 5,000 new photographs • Hundreds of new illustrations, videos, and maps • Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus
  • New York Times 1980-present
    Comprehensive coverage of The New York Times from 1980 to today.

  • Vast collection of resources including laws and legal info, past and present news, journals, and company data.
  • Reliable online reference information from hundreds of encyclopedias and other publications spanning all subject areas.
  • Up-to-date full text access to 26 national and regional U.S. news publications.
  • Cover-to-cover full text for 35 national (U.S.) and international newspapers. Has selective full text for 375 regional U.S. newspapers. Full text transcripts are also included from CBS Evening News, CNN, Fox News, Face the Nation (CBS), 48 Hours (CBS), 60 Minutes (CBS), All Things Considered (National Public Radio), and others
  • Invaluable resource for current issues and controversies such as: capital punishment, gun control, climate change, genetic engineering, terrorism. Contains thousands of pro/con essays, court cases, magazine and peer-reviewed articles.


Examples of Finding More Resources from the Background Resources

Here's an example of finding information that might be credible and useful:

Find references to other sources in the background article.   (the link in the article is dead, but it was easy to find the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Here's another source I found by consulting the background sources: