It starts with an idea...
Choose a topic that you're interested in
Research is more fun and more relevant to your life if you care about what you're learning.
Keep it relevant
Read the assignment and make sure the topic you choose meets your instructor's requirements.
Find the question
A good topic starts as a research question. The research you conduct in the Library will give you the information you need to answer that question. Be curious and open-minded and think of a question that will inspire you to learn more.
Once you choose a topic, you can then begin to learn more about that topic. The 4 Ws are a good way to learn more about your topic. The 4Ws will help you to gather background information on your topic as well as relevant argument and ideas surrounding your topic.
Who are the people or groups relevant to your topic? This can include companies or even fictional characters!
Example: If you're writing about video games, this might include gamers, game designers, Hideo Kojima, Blizzard, or even Nathan Drake.
What are the major events, laws, controversies, or issues related to your topic?
Example: If you're researching health care reform, this might include The Affordable Care Act, generic drug prices, or access to care.
When have major events happened to affect your topic? This can include dates, eras, or even age ranges relevant to your topic.
Example: If you're learning about school uniforms, this might include 1963, the early 2000s, or teenagers.
Where are the places most affected by your topic? Which countries, regions, or states? Does your topic affect urban or rural regions more?
Example: If you're researching the minimum wage, this might include New York City, California, the Pacific North West, or urban centers.
If you need some help getting started, try the brainstorming map below
Break your topic down into its basic parts...
Identify the Main Concepts
Write your research question down. Underline the main ideas in that question.
Example: How does aging affect memory loss?
Make a list of keywords
For each concept, make a list of keywords related to it. Use synonyms, and go back to your background research to find academic vocabulary and terms.
Example: Aging, elderly, seniors, aged, growing older, senescent, old age, geriatric...
Identify keywords with...
Academic OneFile's Visualization Tool.
How to search for information...
You can search for information in a variety of different ways. Here are few strategies to get you started:
AND is the Boolean Operator that tells the search tool that you want information related to all of the keywords in your search. AND narrows your results because all of the results will include all of the keywords from your search.
OR is the Boolean Operator that allows you to expand your search a bit, particularly if you think synonymous keywords might be relevant. The parenthesis will help to set the synonymous keywords apart so that the search understands what you want. Essentially, with the help of the parenthesis, you can complete two searches in one.
"Quote marks" tell the search tool that you are looking for a particular phrase so the search locates whatever you have in quote marks.
Use the Summon Search tool below to practice finding information...
What is peer review?
The process used to make sure the research in a scholarly article is accurate before it is published. After an author submits their article to an academic journal, it is sent to other experts in their field (their peers) to be reviewed. Those experts check to make sure the experiment is sound and the results make sense. If they agree that the article contains good information, then it can be published.