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SOC 335: Nowheres: Starting the Research Process

Professor Phi Su

Create a Research Map

Creating a research map is a great way to start interacting with your topic of inquiry.   

  1. Get a sheet of paper (at least 8.5" x 11") and a pen
  2. Write your topic at the center of the sheet 
  3. Around your topic, identify who interacts with (speaks on/about) this topic). Think about "who has something to say about this?" 
  4. Around the layer of voices, list the type of sources that each group might create 

Creating the Research Map will help you paint the landscape of the information resources for your topic:  primary/secondary sources; contemporary/historical; US/international; thematic/subject specific, etc. Knowing the type of sources you may need will help you identify the most relevant search tools (databases). 

See Christine's example of a Research Map for history of Tokyo project. 


Reference Sources

Historical dictionaries, published bibliographies, atlases are all good starting place.  To locate these sources in library catalogs, you can use some of the following strategies: 

  • Keyword + Dictionnaires 
  • Keyword + Bibliography 
  • Keyword + Maps or Atlases 
  • Keyword + Sources (to find collections of documents) 
  • Keyword + Personal narratives