Keep track of your resources right from the start. If you don't, it may be challenging to refer back for more information or for citing and creating your bibliography.
For each resource, record the:
At this step, you will begin to explore resources to see what information is available. Use the Library's databases, Library catalog, and the web as a starting point.
As you explore, you will:
For a complete list of article and ebook databases: Go to A-Z List
Too much information
If your topic is broad, you will drown in too much information. You will waste valuable time pursuing something that is too immense to be covered within the limitations of your assignment.
Not enough information
If your topic is too narrow, it will be difficult to find enough information. With so few resources, there won't be much substance to work with and you'll be tempted to make things up. Especially challenging are local topics, because there are limited resources that cover them. Consider if the local topic is also a regional or national issue. Researching at a broader level will increase the chances of finding more resources.
In your exploration, you probably found related concepts and ideas. Use them to create a concept map of ideas surrounding your topic. Try to answer some of the common reporter interview questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. This process will help you choose a direction for your research.
Developing an answerable question will bring a focus to your topic and prompt you to look for specific information and resources. Consequently, it will save you time.
To begin, review your concept map and choose an issue that has the potential to be explored in greater detail. Think of underlying issues rather than a single fact. A fact such as, "illegal immigrants are coming into the United States" does not provide an opportunity for investigation and analysis.
Consider issues related to this fact such as the:
By using one of the above issues, you can create a research question. For example:
"How does illegal immigration impact job opportunities for United States citizens?"
Notice how the above research question contains key terms related to an issue. When searching, some keywords will be better than others for finding good results.
The next step is to create a pool of keywords and phrases to use as you research. Use the Researching More Effectively worksheet to help you develop a list of keywords.
Complete the "Develop Your Topic" section to help you direct your research for your paper.
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