This guide is for paper, project, and Power Point topics for students in introductory courses. All too often, faculty and teachers offer lists of topics gleaned from textbooks that are several years old. These topics miss current issues, give short shrift to the sciences, and probably fail to do justice to many other areas as well.
Though there are decent paper topic sites on the net, many of these are also getting old. Static web pages take time to update, and only their owners or those with server access can revise them.
The Topic Tree is different. Any one with good topics is welcome to share them here. Since librarians, students, faculty, and the general public all have different interests and sets of expertise, letting the whole world add topics should give a large, diverse, and fairly current collection. If enough people help grow the Topic Tree, it might become the best paper topic site on the net.
To add your topics, just find your way to the appropriate branch. Branches are listed under tabs at the top of this page. Some of the branches have all ready subdivided, so choose the most specific branch. Then click the Add a Topic tab. You don't have to give your real name or register to add a topic, and I'll put the topic on its brnach, when I edit the guide. It should be that simple. At least I hope it will be.
NEWS -- I haven't done much with this guide for several years because it more or less outgrew its space. With version 2 of LibGuides, hopefully that may change. Also LibGuides temporarily disabled the Add a Topic boards. They will be back as soon as I can set up some sort of feedback form. -- January 29, 2015
Following are some skills that faculty have told us they wish students would improve upon:
Citations: "Students should be taught how to do this before beginning the research process." "Be more thorough when acknowledging sources. It is not only scholarly, but polite."
"The capacity to follow leads. Often I see students stumped when a query yields no information, but they don't know how to modify their search. Nor do they understand how browsing through the Library of Congress subject headings might yield information -- or that they could follow through on "see also" references when they're looking something up. Zeroing in on those little clues can really open up a research effort."
"I'd like to see them get in the stacks and look at actual books more, rather than relying primarily on online resources. I'd like to see them engage more critically with published scholarship."
"I wish they would become more careful readers -- even in research, people get it wrong. A close, critical attention, and a more critical attitude toward what they're reading. The internet is a mixed blessing; there is a lot of garbage, but there are also great, wonderful resources."
"Take finding sources more seriously."
"Analyzing primary sources."
"Critically assess sources: what is the source, what is the motive of the author, what is the truth behind their work? In writing papers, ask how would someone else critique this, what questions would they ask?"
"Learn to manage information overload on the internet -- for instance, by using Google Scholar [which limits to scholarly sources]. Don't become too focused on the individual facts instead of the larger context."
"Students tend to be easily satisfied with information that doesn't necessarily dig into a topic. Delve in past the surface information."
"Finding primary sources that are personal narratives....read individuals' diaries or memoires to fully grasp the true history" of a particular time period.
"There's a world of possibility beyond this library or any single library"; tapping other libraries' resources by using tools like WorldCat, and services like interlibrary loan.
"Developing a good research question; knowing how to devise and validate it."
"Need to use up-to-date scholarly sources, as opposed to Google."
"Questioning the sources; the source is an active object that can provide more answers."
We'll be addressing these points in the course.