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Research Basics

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What Should I Write About?

  • Select a topic that interests you!
  • Choose a topic that scholars have written about
  • Choose a topic that fits the scope/length of your assignment (not too broad, not too narrow)

Can't Come Up With a Topic?

  • Review your class notes or scan through your textbook or other class readings for ideas
  • Browse through research articles in one of the library's article databases (for inspiration and to see what research has been published)
  • Try browsing topics/issues in the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database.
  • Talk to your professor, who should be able to provide guidance

Create a Research Question

After choosing a topic, it is time to develop a research question. This is an important step because it will help direct your research by focusing on a specific position or point-of-view. As the name implies, a research question will end with a question mark. For example, for the topic of “college sports,” an appropriate research question could be “Should college athletes be compensated for their performance?”

During the course of your research, you will try to answer your research question with information you find from a variety of credible sources. To create a great research question, review these guidelines:

  • Open-Ended - Your research questions should be open to ensure that you explore credible, academic resources in order to provide a sufficient answer.
  • Simple - When you develop your thesis statement, you can add some complexity to your research. At this stage, however, try to make your research question simple. You will be learning more about your topic over time and can adapt your research question as you go. A topic like "Do car emissions cause global warming, and does that cause melting of glaciers Antarctica?" is too complicated and seeks to answer too many questions. A more simplified version could be "Do car emissions lead to global warming?" or "Does global warming cause ice melt in Antarctica?"