When you have selected a topic you need to find literature on, you will first have to familiarize yourself with the topic in order to clarify it. Especially, if the topic is new to you. In this way you will get a clearer idea of all aspects concerning the topic, definitions, facts and theories. You will get to know related terms and concepts, the context and the various possible ways of approaching the topic. Often you will come across references to important literature during this phase.
In the orientation phase you should use printed or online encyclopaedias, handbooks and subject guides. Use the tables of contents and indexes of handbooks to find more information. In the University Library reading rooms you will find printed encyclopaedias, handbooks etc. The Electronic databases link on the Library web portal gives you access to electronic handbooks and encyclopaedias. And of course you can search SmartCat for more information.
Use these sources to find more information on your topic, such as secondary subjects, keywords, key people, etc.
Be consistent in the way you describe or define your research question. Formulate it as clearly and unambiguously as possible. And be very specific. This will help you decide which information is useful in answering your research question, and which is not.
See the chapter Defining your topic.
However, be aware that Wikipedia contains both articles of very high quality, and very unreliable information. Adopt a critical attitude and always try to verify the information you have found on Wikipedia by using other information sources.
Sources for literature study are divided into primary and secondary sources.
A primary publication contains new information. It is the author’s first report of a discovery, or the first proof of a hypothesis. Examples of primary publications include journal articles, dissertations, reports and conference reports.
Secondary publications contain an overview of primary literature. They include encyclopaedias, handbooks and bibliographies.
Please note! In the Humanities, these terms have different meanings. Primary sources are the object of the research, while secondary sources give an interpretation or analysis of the primary sources.
Do not limit yourself to encyclopaedias, handbooks and subject guides, but also use:
TIP: Look in the literature LibGuide for American Studies!!