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Researching Local Topics: Introduction

A guide for researchers examining issues in the islands.

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 searchingespecially 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

How to Use This Guide - 20-min Video

Other Helpful Guides about Hawai‘i

UH Manoa Guide to Hawaii Resources