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Fire: Past, Present and Future Interactions with the People and Ecosystems of California: Research Process

ESPM C22AC, Anthropology C12AC

The Research Process

Choose a topic.  

Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including

  • Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest [countries, regions, cities]

Fill in the gaps in your knowledge: get background information from books, encyclopedias, or other secondary sources.  Wikipedia can be good here.

Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic.  Use UC Library Search, or look under the Specialized Databases tab of this guide for article database suggestions.

Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.

Evaluate what you find.  Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.

Refine Your Topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.

Quick Guide to Evaluating Resources

When you encounter any kind of source, consider:

  1. Authority - Who is the author? What is their point of view? 
  2. Purpose - Why was the source created? Who is the intended audience?
  3. Publication & format - Where was it published? In what medium?
  4. Relevance - How is it relevant to your research? What is its scope?
  5. Date of publication - When was it written? Has it been updated?
  6. Documentation - Did they cite their sources? Who did they cite?

Identify Search Terms

You do allow embedded content.

How to identify the best terms for relevant search results.

More information:
Introductory Boolean operator tutorial
Advanced tutorial

Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) License.