Picking a topic & developing a research question
Suggested Topics: Refugees, Women in the Media, Stem-cell Research, Women's Reproductive Health, Social Justice, Climate Change.
How do I get started?
Do some preliminary searching in library databases to help you choose a topic and develop a research question. Engaging with sources early in your research process will help to jumpstart your research—by reading around you'll see what issues are being discussed around your topic and start to develop a specific research question that interests you.
Begin searching in the Start Your Research Here box at the top of the page. This search box will allow you to search many databases at once.
According to your assignment, you need to choose a topic (see suggested topics above) and explore how this topic impacts a minoritized group. For example, we decided to start searching using the terms climate change and minorities. Just type your search terms in the box and click the Search button.
- Tip: Choose a topic that you find interesting.
- Tip: As you read about the issues, you can begin to focus your topic on a specific issue on climate change and minorities. Ask yourself what you find interesting about this topic.
- Tip: Use the limiters in the Refining Your Results box on the left side of the results page to get more relevant results. Publication Date, Availability and Material Type can be helpful limiters to use.
- Tip: Find other ways of saying or synonyms for your key search terms and use these in a new search.
What's a research question?
A brief, specific question that helps you to collect and read information--trying to collect information on a broad topic can be overwhelming, so start with a specific open-ended how and why question to guide your research.
- Tip: A research question should not be answerable with a yes or no or with easily found facts.
How do I develop a research question?
As you read, ask yourself what issues are scholars and researchers discussing about your topic? What are you curious about? Are there questions that come to mind as you read these articles?
- Tip: Look at the sample research questions from your research paper assignment.
Keep Track of the relevant sources you find.
Be sure to Keep Track of Your Sources. Most databases feature tools for generating a formatted citation and emailing articles with a formatted citation.
- Tip: Save your citations in MLA 9 format.
- Tip: Create a word document and copy and paste your saved citations in this new document; this will be a first draft of your Works Cited page.
For more about this process, check out the short video below Picking Your Topic Is Research!