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SPN 411 Art and Activisim in Latin America

Choosing Your Topic

Choosing your topic can sometimes be the hardest part of any research assignment. Make sure that you understand your assignment guidelines and then take some time to explore your options. What do you know about this topic already? What about this topic interests you? What research has already happened on this topic? Watch this video for a good example on how searching library databases can help you refine your topic. 

Another good way to start your research is using a concept mapping tool which will help you visualize subtopics and related topics and identify possible search terms. Several of our library databases offer concept mapping tools. Once you've narrowed your topics within each database you should be able to click in to specific articles. 


When you search a topic in our Discovery search tool, there is an option to open a Concept Map feature. See the image below for where you can locate the button that will take you to the concept map too.  

A Screenshot of the library discovery search tool with the Concept Map tool button circled in yellow.


Gale databases have the Topic Finder feature. Here's an example for a Topic Finder search I did for Burma in our reference database, Gale Ebooks. Each tile allows you to click on it and find more subtopics. 

Screenshot of a concept mapping tool representing a search for Burma.


Credo database has a concept map tool that can be accessed by searching your topic. Here is an example of a search for William Wallace. Clicking on each topic will take you to a list of articles that are relevant.


Still not sure where to start? Just ask! Librarians can be a great resource for helping you define your topic and come up with keywords to search. Visit the Just Ask section of the library website, use the chat widget, or e-mail for more assistance. 

Head of Technical Services Librarian

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Beth Miller
Head of Technical Services Librarian
Washington & Jefferson College
Clark Family Library
60 S. Lincoln Ave.
Washington, PA 15301