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Beginning your research
Know your Assignment
Decide on a topic
Do an initial search of library and web resources
Turn your topic into a research question
Develop search strategy & identify keywords
Know Your Assignment
The first step fo the research process is to know the assignment and what guidelines/requirements the professor has given. Take note of the following:
- Topic: Have you been assigned a topic for you to write about or can you choose a subject of interest to you, which fits into the guidelines of the assignment.
- Type of research: What type of research is needed? Do you need original research (such as survey or experiment) or are you able to use secondary research (such as research published in books/journal articles)?
- Scope: Do you need to analyze a topic from different viewpoints or do you need to take one position and defend it?
- Sources: Are you required to use a certain number and/or type of resources in your research?
- Citation Style: Has the professor, specified a citation style for you to use in citing your sources? If not, which style is appropriate for your subject?
- Format/Length: Is there a page limit for the completed assignment? Has formatting guidelines, such as line spacing, numbering, or font size been given?
- Due date: When in your paper due?
What makes a good topic?
A good topic is:
- Broad enough that you can find enough information on the subject.
- Focused enough that you are not overwhelmed with too much information.
- Interesting to you
Keep in mind, good research takes time and effort.
Initial Library Resources Check
It is always good to brainstorm about your topic before jumping into a library or internet resource search. Your text book as well as the library's online catalog can help provide a good overview of your topic.
Turn your topic into a question
Creating a research question can help to focus your research. What about your topic do you want to research? What aspects of the subject interest you?
Search Strategy/Identify Keywords
Determine your Search Strategy by looking at your research question/topic statement and identify keywords and concepts. The Keywords will help you when you begin searching library resources.
Using a search strategy
- will save you time and energy.
- will make it easier for someone else to understand your research process.
- will help you to remain consistent in your search from one resource to another.
Identify the keywords
- review your research question.
- review common terms from an initial libary/web search
- identify synonymns and words related to topic
- record assigned subjects/subject headings that relate to your key words