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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Integrative Studies 400: Explorations in Leadership

Dr. Sheila Woodward

Picking a Topic

Getting Started

Picking a general topic is usually not that difficult, but coming up with a more focused topic to do a literature review can be. For your general theme of leadership and social change, think about...

  • Who? A particular leader or group or organization OR leadership in a particular context, such as: sports, health, entertainment, etc.
  • Where? A particular country or region. Note: Don't pick a really small country or region -- it's much easier to find articles on issues relating to a country like the USA rather than Nepal, or South Africa rather than on Namibia.
  • When? A particular timeframe. Again, not too specific. Think more like eras -- the 1960s or the 21st century.

You don't have to have all of this nailed down before you start exploring articles. But if your initial topic is too broad, it's harder to find articles that are related or are "speaking to each other". As you learn more about your topic, you will want to continually refine and focus your topic.

Peer Reviewed Journals

Remember, at least 5 out of 7 of your sources need to be peer-reviewed journal articles! See Step 2: Finding Journal Articles.

APA Style

You'll need to cite your sources in APA Style, 7th Edition. (Yes, they have made some major changes from the 6th edition, mainly in simplifying the information about where you got the source.) See APA Style 7th Edition for citation examples.

Need Help Deciding a Topic? Encyclopedias Are Your Friends

One useful way of choosing a more focused topic is to scan encyclopedia entries on bigger topics, and look for sub-issues. That and encyclopedia entries can offer a quick way of building up your knowledge on new-to-you topics.

The resources below offer Wikipedia-like information, except that the entries are written by experts, and they have gone through an editorial process before being published. But you don't want to cite these, unless you are defining a term.

If you can't find an entry on your topic, text or email me. We have many other resources in print. (I can send you a PDF copy of an entry from a print source.)

Need Help Deciding on a Topic? Books Are Your Friends, Too

The vast majority of your literature review sources are going to be journal articles or very authoritative websites. But don't dismiss books. They are useful for two reasons:

  1. Background information: In this case, I am suggesting that you skim the introduction of a book or two on your topic. It acts like the encyclopedia entry overview.
  2. Chapter from a book: Some books are really a bunch of journal articles written by a variety of scholars, packaged together thematically. So use a chapter or two like you would a journal article.

And we have lots of eBooks you can keyword search!