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Choose a Topic
Find ideas in:
- Your syllabus
- Your text
- Class discussion
- Your life
- Current events
What's a Research Question?
The basic formula for a research question is:
How does x relate/impact/cause y?
For a good research question you’ll usually have one more component, something to make it a bit more specific, like a place, time, group of people, etc. Try using the Five W's.
Find Background Information
Background information helps you:
- Start thinking about your topic
- See the big picture
- Identify major issues
- Discover something that interests you
Use quality, professionally produced sources to familiarize yourself with the topic (not just Google and Wikipedia).
Try some of these:
A general reference collection of over 900 titles covering every major subject. Topic pages gather articles from multiple texts and provide links to other library resources.
Complete text of the encyclopedia plus links to other online resources.
Narrow Your Topic
Consider these questions:
Ask yourself open-ended questions to focus your topic. You don't have to answer all of the questions. Some might not apply or be helpful.
Use the five w's:
- Who: demographic focus (gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status
- What: aspects and impacts of the topic (sociological, psychological, economic)
- Where: geographic location
- When: either present day or a particular time period in the past
- Why/How/So What!: importance, significance (societal, individual)