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Quick Tips on Preparing For Research
Here is a title you might find useful: Graybosch, A.J., et al. The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual (2nd ed. Prentice-Hall 2003)
Before you start your research in the library:
- understand the key terms you may be using as well as the general area that interests you;
- think about ways to narrow your topic, making it as specific as possible (unless you have been given a specific topic to research!);
- create a thesis statement;
- list the main concepts (key words) included in your thesis statement (research question), then based on your readings;
- find as many synonyms as you can for each main concept. You are now ready to start searching in the library's catalogue and databases.
When you are looking for definitions or if you don’t know much about a specific subject, reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopedias become invaluable because they contain relatively short—and understandable—articles. These articles often lay out the parameters of a subject and can assist you in trying to narrow your topic. Often such articles are accompanied by lists of readings (bibliographies) which allow you to explore your topic further.
- Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers (hardcopy). 1996.
- Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (hardcopy). 1995.
- Dictionary of World Philosophy (online). 2001.
- The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy - online (1996) and hardcopy (2005).
- The Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy (hardcopy). 2010.
- Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie (hardcopy). 2010.
- Dictionary of the History of Ideas (online). 1973.
- The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (hardcopy). 2005
- International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (online).
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online).
- Oxford Companion to Philosophy (online). 1995
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online).
In addition, Oxford University Press has published a slew of handbooks on various specialized areas of philosophy. See Oxford Handbooks for full-text online access to the collection.