Identifying a question, or research topic, is a very important part of the research process. As you search, you may find that the new ideas you encounter cause you to change your original topic or idea. This is all part of the fun of research!
As an undergraduate, your research question may be given to you by a professor. However, as you advance in the field, you will have more and more autonomy to guide your own research with your own questions. Plus, the skills you learn here will help you in other classes where you have to choose your own topic or in life when you become curious about something that you want to investigate.
This short video from NCSU introduces the idea that research is not straightforward. It gives these tips:
The video suggests you broaden or narrow your topic based on the number of results you are getting. You can do this by changing the keywords you are using in your searches. Checking the number of available sources on your topic, however, is only ONE way of vetting your topic. Stick with this guide to discover other aspects of the research process.
Before you dive into the first step of the research process, think for a moment about your research plan. Your instructor may have given you a worksheet to guide your pre-search process. If not, that's ok. Just take a few moments to think about the following:
How does . . .
What procedures or actions . . .
What problems . . .
What happens when . . .
What is the role of . . . in . . .
What is the difference between . . .
What causes . . .
What are the effects or results of . . .
How or why did . . . decide to . . .
Who or what influenced . . . to . . .
What is the relationship between . . . and . . .
What are the competing sides . . .
How does. . . change . . .
Now, use the "Developing a Research Question" infographic to ask some important questions about your issue.
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