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Researching Local Topics: Overview

A guide for researchers examining issues in the islands.

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UH Manoa Guide to Hawaii Resources

We live in a special place... special research considerations and strategies are required.

Source: Road to Hana, via Wikimedia Commons

General Hints for Researching Local Topics

Local News is THE place where local issues are discussed


When you are working on a local problem that may not have been addressed before and little research is there to back it up, you may need to go out and collect information or data yourself. This is called primary research and examples include surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research. 

Conducting primary research can greatly supplement your research of secondary sources, such as journals, magazines, or books. Primary research is an excellent skill to learn as it can be useful in a variety of settings including academic, business, and personal.


Keywords are the words you type into the search box when using a search tool.  Keywords, therefore, are your search terms, the words the search tool will hunt to find. Having the right keyword can mean the difference between hours of frustrating, unsuccessful research and hours of exhilarating, abundant research. 

Consider the key concepts you identified for your topic.  Start by translating those concepts into keywords you can potentially use when searching different online search tools.  The best way to come up with keywords is to find the synonyms of your key concepts.

For example, Styrofoam is a brand name for a kind of expanded polystyrene. You may need to use polystrene instead of Styrofoam when searchingespecially if you are looking for scholarly or academic information. 

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Hawaiian Language Dictionaries

Search Hawaiian Dictionaries online to look up Hawaiian words.

Or, you can check out the following dictionaries from the Library: