Choosing a Topic
When selecting a topic for your research, ask yourself the following questions:
Check out Choose a Research Topic from the University of California Santa Cruz Library or the video below for more help:
Brainstorming is a way to come up with topics or ideas. It allows a person to casually consider multiple topics, ideas, theories, etc. without judgement and to take some ideas further into actual projects or as tools to consider more topics, ideas, theories, etc. Click here for more information about brainstorming.
A mind map is a visual representation of your issue or topic. It is a tool which is used to visualize ideas and opportunities for broadening or narrowing down search topics. Click here for more information on mind mapping.
There are a number of free brainstorming and mind mapping tools available online like Bubbl.us and Popplet. Alternatively, try the mind map available via Credo Reference (click "Mind Map" on the Credo Reference homepage):
Need help finding or deciding on a topic?
The following databases and web resources contain lists of topics you can browse through for inspiration:
When you need to broaden or narrow down your topic, ask yourself:
Who? - Who am I researching?
What? - What am I researching?
When? - What time period am I interested in?
Where? - Where is my research topic taking place?
Why? - Why does my research matter?
What is a Research Question?
A research question is the question that is answered by your research. So when you are developing one, you want to ask yourself: What do you want to know about a topic? When doing research, you want to address your topic as a question for which there are no immediate answers. For example:
TOPIC: video games and violence
RESEARCH QUESTION: Does playing violent video games lead to juvenile violence?
Developing a Research Question
When you need to develop a research question, you want to ask yourself: what do you want to know about a topic? Additionally, you'll want to determine WHO you are researching, WHAT you are researching, WHEN your research topic takes place, WHERE your research topic takes place, and WHY you are researching this topic.
Try these steps to formulate a research question:
Check out these links and the video below for more information:
Example Research Questions
The following are some examples of research questions built from topics, subtopics, and issues/problems:
|TOPIC||SUBTOPIC||ISSUE OR PROBLEM||RESEARCH QUESTION|
|Environment||Global Warming||Global Warming in the United States||What can the United States do to identify and prevent global warming?|
|William Shakespeare||King Lear||King Lear and the theme of betrayal||How could the character of King Lear change the outcome of betrayal in the play?|
|Censorship||Internet||Internet and China||How will China's efforts to censor the Internet affect its citizens?|
|Whales||Minke whales||Minke whales and extinction||What factors have contributed to the Minke whale depopulation?|