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Oakbrook Prep AP Research - Fall 2023

Your Topic

Choosing & Narrowing a Topic
Choosing a research topic can feel equally exciting, limiting and overwhelming. Excitement occurs because research allows you the ability to follow your curiosity.
But most of us have many interests and choosing only one for the purpose of research may feel somewhat limiting.

On the other hand, choosing a topic can also be overwhelming when you consider the volume of books, magazine articles, and websites that may need to be reviewed as possible resources

The key is to choose something you are truly interested in or possibly combine a few interests, so the process seems less like a job and more like an adventure.

Source: Kentucky Virtual Library

Reference Sources

Reference sources provide foundational information on research topics like important people, historical events, cultural theories, or religious doctrines. Use these sources to give yourself background information, develop the topic of a paper, make a list of important names or events related to your topic, understand the timeline of historical events, or discover the definition of unfamiliar terms.

Finding Resources: The South Carolina State Library offers databases through DISCUS that have a variety of materials including primary sources, encyclopedias, journals and magazine articles, and test prep resources. The Spartanburg County Public Library also offers databases providing both primary and secondary sources. 

Databases available through DISCUS

  • Academic Search Premier
  • Alt Health Watch
  • Business Source Premier
  • *Credo Reference
  • Education Full Text
  • History Reference Center
  • Masterfile Premier
  • *Newspaper Source Plus
  • *Points of View Reference Center

* - primarily non-scholarly materials


Databases available through Spartanburg County Public Libraries

  • *African American History
  • Medline
  • *New York Times
  • *Salem Press

* - primarily non-scholarly materials

Taking Notes

Now that you have gathered reliable resources, you are ready to begin extracting relevant information from these sources.  Research often involves connecting the information you discover in resources with your own ideas, and you will often be required to add to these thoughts you find in your sources.  You will need to create source cards to identify the sources of quotations and ideas so you will be prepared to cite your sources later as well as find sources again if you need additional information.  Integrity is imperative when utilizing resource and requires you to properly cite or give credit to the author when necessary.  The key is knowing when and how to cite a source, therefore, reducing your chances of plagiarizing the information.

Source: Kentucky Virtual Library

Citation Guide