Contextualize Your Topic

Find What the Research Says About Your Topic

Use Multidisciplinary Academic Search Engines

These search engines contain lots of extra clues---make sure to "read" the page to learn about relevant research fields, related topics, points of debate, etc. Some places to look: filter options, subject headings, journal titles, abstracts, author affiliations.

  • Academic Search Premier - A popular resource found in many scholarly settings worldwide, Academic Search Premier is a leading multidisciplinary research database. It provides acclaimed full-text journals, magazines and other valuable resources.

[Bibliographic coverage with some full text: Atlantic, Discover, Harper's Magazine, Mother Jones, Nature, National Geographic, New Scientist, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Popular Science, Science, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review] 

  • Web of Science - Search the world’s leading scholarly journals, books, and proceedings in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities and navigate the full citation network.
  • Google Scholar 
  • PubMed - National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine. PubMed comprises more than 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.  

Feeling Overwhelmed? Start with an Academic Summary of Your Topic

  • CQ Researcher - CQ Researcher provides award winning in-depth coverage of the most important issues of the day. Our reports are written by experienced journalists, footnoted and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos and short "sidebar" features round out the reports. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects most in demand by students.
  • Annual Reviews - includes Biochemistry, Biomedical Data Science, Biomedical Engineering, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Computer Science, Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, Environment, Fluid Mechanics, Food Science and Technology, Materials Research, and more.
  • HOLLIS (Library Catalog) -- for really big topics, a book can be the best place to start. While journal articles will give you the most up-to-the-minute information on details of a topic, a book will summarize the major issues and point you in the right direction.

Find What Journalists Are Saying

  • Academic search premier (linked above) - a great place to start, as it searches a curated selection of top newspapers and magazines.
  • Nexis Uni - more than 15,000 news, business and legal sources from LexisNexis.
  • Factiva - business and news publications including the Wall Street Journal. BEWARE: our license limits us to 6 simultaneous users. If you have access issues (you might be able to get in but see weird search results), wait and try again later.
  • Even more - see the Harvard Kennedy School's News & Media Studies guide.

Do Some Quality Control

For Academic Journals

For Newspapers and Magazines

  • Wikipedia -- for a quick and dirty sense of general reputability
  • Four Moves - The "four moves" fact-checkers make to efficiently assess the validity of a source
  • How to Spot Fake News  - International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions