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FTS: Cultivating Practice: Unleashing the Creative: Start

FTS: Cultivating Practice

Use this guide to start exploring resources for your FTS. It's just a starting point - don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian at any step along the way!

Understanding the Arts Poster Image

Understanding the Arts (Federal Art Project, WPA, 1936-1941) from the Library of Congress is in the public domain

Library Session Slides

Getting Started

To get started, read your assignment carefully. Make sure you understand the task before starting your research.

Once you select a topic, you will need to conduct some preliminary research to decide how to proceed with your research. In addition to the "Explore Your Topic" box on this page, there are many resources to help you with this stage of the process!

  • Reference librarians can point you toward the best information resources 
  • Writing Center tutors can help you think through an assignment 
  • Your professor can help you shape and explore your topic
  • Friends or classmates can be good sounding boards as you talk through your initial research ideas

Explore Your Topic

Spend some time mapping out a topic, sorting out what information is available and what others have said about your topic. You're trying to figure out the conversations happening around your topic - and identifying who's having those conversations. Try these strategies:

  • Make a list of possible issues to research. Use class discussions, texts, personal interests, conversations with friends, and discussions with your professor for ideas. You'll be surprised how fast ideas come once you start writing them down.
  • Map out the topic by finding out what others have had to say about it:
  • Consult the appropriate Research Guides to explore resources for your field
  • Browse reference books (main floor of library, Beck Hall side) for overviews of your topic
  • Use online, reliable resources that provide overviews of topics presented by experts
  • Talk with your professor about ways you can develop the topic, including sources and scholars you should consider
  • Talk with a librarian about finding useful resources
  • Develop questions. Do ideas you come across seem to offer interesting contrasts? Does one aspect seem intriguingly connected to something else? Is there something about the topic that surprises you? Do you encounter anything that makes you wonder why? 
  • Draft a research plan. Write down what you want to investigate and how you plan to do it. Writing down where you plan to take your research at this stage can help you clarify your thoughts and plan your next steps. 
  • Talk over your developing topic. Tell your roommate or another friend about your topic. Sometimes just explaining the idea to others can help you clarify what direction seems most interesting.


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Anna Hulseberg
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