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GOVT 2306 TR Killingsworth: Get Started

Beginning Your Research

Take the time to understand your assignment. This may be more complicated than it seems. Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it so that you can budget your time effectively, and ask your instructor about anything that is unclear.

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

  • Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?
  • What kind of writing style is acceptable?
  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

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How do I choose?

  • Consider class discussions and reading assignments
  • Consider current events or items in the news
  • Browse the list of topics in the Texas Tribune article linked below.


Choosing an appropriate topic to research is critical to success. Choose one that fits the assignment and that interests you. Consult with your instructor about your topic before you begin your research.

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Why do I need background information?

  • Get more familiar with the history of your topic on a national and state level
  • Find out names, dates, and places relevant to your topic
  • Learn about special vocabulary related to your topic

Use the search box below to find reference sources in the library catalog to help you get started.

Search Tips

Too much? Too little? 

Let's pretend you want to find information about texting while driving. Here are some search tips you can use to get better results. You can use one or two of these, or get really fancy and use all of them. 

  • To be more precise, put key phrases in quotation marks.
    Ex: "texting while driving"
  • Too many records on your topic? Try adding another search term with the connector AND.
    Ex: "mobile phones" AND driving
  • Too few records on your topic? Try adding another search term with the connector OR.
    Ex: driving AND texting AND (cell OR mobile) note use of parenthesis to keep concepts together
  • Getting unrelated topics? Try eliminating a word with the connector NOT.
    Ex: "Distracted driving" AND texting NOT sleep

Examples from other topics:

  • Texas AND "child welfare" AND reform
  • Texas AND voter AND identi* (to include identity and identification)
  • Texas AND border AND immigrat* (to include immigration and immigrants)

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