Subject Trees : Researching Your Topic





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Subject Trees :




Ultimately, your topic and your research question will determine what kinds of research resources are most helpful to you. For topics that are very timely (for instance, legislation currently being discussed or enacted by Congress or the latest developments in computer technology), newspapers, periodicals, government documents and government sites on the Web, such as Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet (www.thomas.loc.gov/) are more likely sources of information than books or reference works such as encyclopedias which require considerable lead time for publication. For the most up-to-date topics, the Web probably provides the most up-to-date information.

While you can access many encyclopedias directly on the Web, the Web's own evolving version of an encyclopedia may well be the search tool known as a subject tree. If you've ever looked at the bottom half of the Yahoo! search engine's home screen, you've seen something that looked like the structure which follows. Most search engines have a similar function or you can find a subject tree by itself at the WWW Virtual Library (www.vlib.org/). By entering subject tree into the text box of your favorite search engine, you can find lists of more subject trees (such as the one sorted by fields of study at bubl.ac.uk/link/menus.html).


Simple subject trees found on Yahoo! home screen :


Agriculture : Agriculture, Gardening, Forestry, ...


Arts & Humanities : Literature, Photography, ...


Business & Economy : Economics, Finance, Shopping, ...


Computing : Internet, E-Commerce, Languages, ...


Education : Education, Applied Linguistics, K-12, ...


Entertainment : Movies, Music, Humor, ...


Government : Elections, Law, Taxes, ...


Health : Medicine, Diseases, Drugs, ...


Recreation : Sports, Games, Gardening, ...


Regional : African, Asian, Countries, US States, ...


Science : Animals, Astronomy, Engineering, ...


Society : Political Science, Religion, Social Sciences, ...


Use a subject tree by finding the entry that most nearly matches your topic (for instance, if you're researching artists in general, you could start with "Arts & Humanities," go from there to "Art" and then follow down the succeeding choices until you get to a list of artists. Clicking on their individual links or the history of art or various movements in art such as the baroque period will usually lead you somewhere interesting. You might want to try your topic in several different subject trees because different topics are treated more completely on different trees.

To continue the section on
Make a Research Outline...,


1.
Moving From Keywords to A Subject Search

2.
Reference Tools

3. Subject Trees

4.
The Library Catalog

5.
Search Engines

6.
Indexes and Databases

7.
Databases and Archives





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