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How to get started on your PIP
Knowing how to start a project can be difficult, especially when you’re new to research. Finding out what’s already been written and understanding how you can contribute can feel overwhelming.
Many students studying Society and Culture find that one of the hardest parts of the Personal Interest Project (or PIP) is selecting their topic. Some have too many ideas and find it difficult to focus, others spend a long-time seeking inspiration and can’t decide on even one idea! Ensuring the topic links back to course concepts is important too. It’s a good idea to start your research early so there’s time to change paths.
Luckily the State Library has some excellent resources. So, if you want help to select that perfect topic area, or go deeper into your chosen topic, the Library can support you on your PIP journey.
If you want to learn more about how to get started, the Society and Culture Research Guide is an excellent resource.
Choosing possible topics
Take a few minutes to write down topics you’re interested in. You can then use these key words to complete searches.
If you aren’t finding much, try using synonyms or searching with fewer words. Keep a list of your search terms and cross off the ones that don’t give relevant results as you go along.
Tip: Can't think of anything at all? Get started with one of these: 'health care' 'climate change' 'racism'
Reading and refining
Next, you’ll want to investigate if these topics are being discussed by other researchers and media sources. Use a couple of keywords from your shortened list to find interesting articles in journals and newspapers.
Write down what you notice. Maybe there’s a lot written about health or the environment, but gaps in social areas? Are there thousands of results, or only a few? What related topics and words are coming up?
Bringing topics together
Here’s where you get to be creative, bringing together topics you’ve searched to create new knowledge! Try selecting topics that compare different cultural or ethnic groups, or perhaps focus on a specific age group or geographical location.
You can find more search tips in the research guides.
Tip: See how perspectives have evolved over time by searching the same subjects for different years.
The important thing to remember is that research is a journey. It is likely that you won’t end up where you thought you would when you started. Recording your progress and why you changed directions will also help you to complete your log.
Enjoy the process of reading and digesting, you will eventually find something that you feel passionate about. The Library provides many resources that you can access at any time, the information is there for you to use and the staff are there to support you.
So, why not get started today?
Holly Radunz, Librarian, Information & Access