Researching Local Topics: Introduction
We live in a special place...
...so special research considerations and strategies are required.
Source: Road to Hana, via Wikimedia Commons
General Hints for Researching Local Topics
1. USE NEWS ARTICLES FOR CURRENT EVENTS TOPICS
Local news is where local issues are discussed. Be sure to keep in mind bias in news sources. Because of bias, try to read from a variety of sources. Consult the News tab on this guide for help finding news sources.
2. CONDUCT PRIMARY RESEARCH
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.
3. BE AWARE OF KEYWORD SYNONYMS
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 searching, especially if you are looking for scholarly or academic information.
4. FOR OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS TOPICS, CONSIDER STARTING WITH SOME OF THE LIBRARY'S PRO/CON DATABASES
Even though these pro/con databases look at hot topics from a national perspective, they may help give you good background information on the big picture of your topic. For example, if you're researching the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in Hawaii, you may want to first look for a national report on this topic in one of the opposing viewpoints databases listed below or from the full list of library current events databases.
- CQ Researcher This link opens in a new windowObjective, in-depth exploration into popular news and current events topics. Reports published weekly. Each report is written by an experienced journalist and features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of every issue.
- Issues & Controversies This link opens in a new windowA collection of reports providing objective, in-depth analysis of today's hot topics. Updated weekly, this resource presents the key facts, arguments, history, and current context of today’s most important issues—an ideal resource for research papers, debate preparation, and persuasive writing assignments.
- Points of View This link opens in a new windowPoints of View is designed to assist researchers in understanding the full scope of controversial subjects. Students can use Points of View as a guide to debating, developing arguments, writing position papers, and developing critical thinking skills. Each Points of View Essay includes a series of questions and additional material to generate further thought. Also included are thousands of supporting articles from the world's top political and societal publications. The Points of View Debate Blog is a forum for students to express and exchange their unique views on topics in the news.
Other Helpful Guides about Hawai‘i
- Hawai'i: Center of the PacificA research guide designed for the course HWST 107.
- Pana Maui: Maui's Sacred Hawaiian PlacesA research guide intended for students in HWST 262.
- Hawaiian EthnobotanyA research guide designed for HWST 211.
- Hawaiian MythologyA research guide created for HWST 270.
UH Manoa Guide to Hawaii Resources
- Hawaii Research GuideA subject guide produced by the librarians at UH Manoa. It contains over 66 different research guides on all aspects of life in Hawaii, both past and present.