I. Begin by getting an understanding of the topic.
Sometimes, using a dictionary such as the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, gives you a general idea about the topic, before looking a little further. For example:
Cloud \klaúd\ noun:
a visible mass of particles of condensed vapor (as water or ice) suspended in the atmosphere of a planet (as the earth) or moon.
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition. Springfield,
Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 1998.*
The next step would be to look in one of the following encyclopedias, which will give you an overview of the topic, as well as suggestions for further research. These are usually found at the end of the article.
The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc., 2001.
The Oxford American Children's Encyclopedia. Oxford, NY: Oxford
University Press, 1998.
The World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia. Chicago, IL: World Book,
There are two encyclopedias on line, which I would also recommend for general information. When you search these, all articles with information about the topic are reported back.
Electronic Library's Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com
II. Single volume encyclopedias or reference books with subjects are specifically about weather, climate, or science take you into the next level of research.
The World Book Encyclopedia of Science: Vol 4, The Planet Earth. Chicago,
IL: World Book, Inc., 2000.
Planet Earth. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1997.
III. Don't rule out the more in depth research you can do by searching for books on your topic!
Using Alexandria Researcher, our online catalog, and search under the name of your topic. In simple search, type in the topic, and click the subject button. All items, which list your subject, such as clouds, in the subject line, will be listed. Some of the books on clouds located through this search are:
Prensky, Gail, dir. Clouds. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.
Gardner, Robert. Science Project Ideas About Rain. Springfield, NJ, Enslow,
1997. (551.57 GAR)
Try broadening your topic search using the Boolean search screen. Type your topic on the first line. Choose the Boolean indicator "and." (Remember, you can also narrow your search by using the Boolean operator "not.") Type the word "weather" on the second line. In my search for material for clouds, the following book is listed:
Oxlade, Chris. Weather. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn. 1999.
Richards, Jon. The Young People's Atlas of the World. Brookfield, CT:
Copper Beech, 1997. (912 RIC)
The call number for three of the four titles have the same basic Dewey stem. The subject is identified by the numbers in this order:
500 is the classification for Science.
550 is the classification for Earth Science (study of the land, earth, and sky formations.
551 is the classification for Geology (study of the earth), hydrology (study of water), and meteorology (study of the planets).
551.57 is the classification for water, moving water (rivers, oceans), and the water cycle.
551.576 is the specific classification number for clouds.
Remember, it is important to notice the
call numbers of the books which you have found. If you go to
any branch of the Free Library, you can find books about weather
and clouds under the same call number. You can also search for
your topic's Dewey number at the Free Library Catalog: http://www.library.phila.gov.
IV. To locate magazine articles, use the ACCESS PA POWER Library Database.
Log on to the computer. Launch Safari. The ACCESS PA POWER Library website is one of the book marked web sites. Here, you can choose Searchasaurus. Select Middle Search Plus as your search choice. Be sure to check the box for full text articles. You can search the subject categories, or type in your topic. Typing in clouds, I found:
Stoddard, Tim. The Invention Of Clouds (Book Review) By: Stoddard, Tim.,
Discover, Jul 2001, Vol. 22 Issue 7, p90, Jul 2001. Searchasaurus. Accessed 28
November 2001. http://www.powerlibrary.org/Interface/
Berman, Bob. Muggy Marvels. Astronomy, Jul 2001, Vol. 29 Issue 7, p88, Jul
2001. Searchasaurus. Accessed 28 November 2001.
Lang, Nancy J. "Grow Clouds in a Bottle." Scientific American Explorations,
Vol. 4 Issue 2, p8, Spring 2001. Searchasaurus. 28 November 2001.
V. Photographs and graphics can be found at:
When you have finished your search for articles, go back to the Power Library and click on the AccuNet/AP® Multimedia Archive, to see if you can find pictures or graphics of your topic to add to your report. I found the beautiful picture of the Harrisburg Capital Building's dome against the clouds shown at the top of this page there.
A second place to search is Google's extensive
images database at http://www.google.com
VI. Finally, you may use search engines to find more information on your topic.
Here are a few web sites that I found searching the subject, clouds.
University of Illinois, Department of Atmospheric Sciences. http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/cld/dvlp/wtr.rxml