An hour spent with one or more subject encyclopedias (a type of tertiary source) early on in the research process will save you hours of wasted time! Articles in subject encyclopedias are written by scholars who have deep specialization in the topic and the articles themselves go through a stringent editing process. Here's what subject encyclopedias provide:
Think broadly about your research topic. You may find it useful to create a concept map of related people, groups, events, and themes. For example, suppose you are interested in exploring the consequences of China's one-child policy. You might find it useful to peruse a variety of subject encyclopedia entries on:
the one-child policy
adoption in China
orphans and orphanages in China
China Center for Adoption Affair
fang-shou campaign cycle
Great Leap famine
As you explore the connections between these ideas, you'll start to see potential research questions for your paper.
If you're not finding what you need in the subject encyclopedias above, continue your research by consulting these collections of subject encyclopedias. If you have any difficulties at all, please email Peggy Burge for assistance and recommendations.