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SAC 2022

Welcome to Collins Library

Turning Topics into Research

Part of effective research is figuring out what you’re researching. Often that means taking a BIG topic and turning it into a relatively narrow question that you can then try to answer. When you're researching a particular person, you will want to learn about THEM (their life story, their accomplishments, etc) but you also may need to know about their CONTEXT. What are they fighting for or against? If they are a historical figure, what do you know about what Tacoma was like during the time period that they were doing their work? What are their major accomplishments? 

Brainstorm what you know about your activist, and then think about keywords/search terms you might use to find out more information about them. Finally, think about where you might search for answers to these questions.  

What do you know about your person? What do you know about what was/is going on in the world while they do their work? What are keywords or search terms related to that aspect? Where can you  search to find good information?



Searching Tips

  • When searching online, remember to do some digging to investigate the credibility of the sources you find and look for bias.
    • Who is behind the website? What’s their agenda? How old is the information? What credentials do the author or organization have?
    • Wikipedia is a fine place to get you started, just make sure you also follow up with other sources as well. 
  • Add in keywords to make your search more specific. Those can be in a couple categories:
    • Related to the person you're searching: what are they most known for? If they're an anti-racist activist, add in phrases like "racism" or "black lives matter" 
    • Related to the time period: if they are a historical figure, add in search terms related to the time period that they're from, or notable  historic events that they are associated with, like "world war II" or "civil rights era" or "Chinese expulsion"
    • Related to the type of source you're looking for: you can add in news organizations (like NPR or KNKX) or local history resources (like Tacoma Historical Society or Historylink)