Geography 155 (Watson)
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Where to Look for Ideas

Check Course-Related Materials:

  • Your syllabus and course reading list
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  • Professional Blogs and Websites

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Developing Your Topic

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Narrowing Your Topic

Once you have a broad idea for a topic, it is important to narrow it down so that you can conduct a more focused and efficient search.  To narrow your topic down, ask yourself the same questions a journalist would when gathering facts for a story.

Important Questions to Ask:

  • Who: What groups do you want to focus on?  Think of sub-groups and categories that can help you narrow your search.  Are you interested in women, a specific racial or ethnic group, or particular age group?  
  • What: Is their a specific aspect of the the topic you would like to explore?  Do you want to understand cultural, political, economic, or social effects of the phenomenon you are interested in?
  • When: Is there a specific time period that interests you?  Are you interested in the distant past, a contemporary issue, or a specific era? 
  • Where: Try to limit your topic to a specific geographic location.  Will you be focusing on events in a whole nation, part of a country, or city or will you focus on an entire region?
  • Why or How: What about this topic is important?  Why is it relevant?

Gather Background Information

Why Use General Reference Sources?

  • They can help you narrow your topic by identifying unique concepts, events, or individuals.
  • It provides important background on larger social and historical contexts.
  • Some sources can point you towards original Research.

Recommended Print Sources

Cover Art
Encyclopedia of Geography - Barney L. Warf (Editor)
Call Number: 910.3 En1w
ISBN: 1412956978
Publication Date: 2010-09-01

Cover Art
Encyclopedia of World Geography - R. W. McColl
Call Number: 910.3 En1m
ISBN: 0816057869
Publication Date: 2005-09-01

Online Reference Sources

  • Key Concepts in Urban Geography
    Key Concepts in Urban Geography is a new kind of textbook that forms part of an innovative set of companion texts for the human geography sub-disciplines.
  • The Dictionary of Human Geography
    Includes short definitional entries (see, for example, the entries for plantation and dry farming) and longer, interpretative essays on human geography and its major sub-fields (such as geopolitics, development, and spatiality), thereby providing readers with a contextual background to the terms.
  • The Dictionary of Physical Geography
    Includes coverage of geomorphology, climatology, biogeography, hydrology, the Quaternary and the human impact. It contains entries ranging in length from succinct definitions of technical terms to extended discussions of concepts and essays on themes of particular interest or importance. The dictionary reflects changes within the discipline and provides an international perspective on the key topics of physical geography.
  • Cultural Geography: A Critical Dictionary of Key Concepts
    Presents short essays exploring the key concepts in cultural geography.

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