Research is an open-ended exploration and that your ideas and thoughts might (and should, probably) certainly change along the way.
When you're starting out, choose an idea or topic that both interests you AND that fits the parameters of your assignment. Then, as you search for information and even as you begin writing your early drafts, you'll find your topic will refine, refocus, and sometimes change entirely.
Be creative and flexible!
The words you use to describe your topic may be different than the words used by the person who created the information you need to find. Challenge yourself (and give yourself enough time) to search, read, discover new terms, and then search again.
If you have a general topic you are interested in exploring for a class assignment, it can be helpful to brainstorm a list of possible research questions you might explore -- and brainstorming more questions than not are beneficial. Use the following lenses to help you brainstorm questions about your topic.
Informs perspectives or choices by synthesizing and comparing information about topic(s).
|Example: Which social media technology of the past 5-10 years has had the largest positive impact on personal relationships?|
Explores solutions or perspectives to particular problems or topics.
|Example: How should we solve the problem of rising student loan debt?|
Explores solutions, perspectives, and options; can help form hypotheses.
|Example: What if the United States had national paid parental leave requirements, similar to that offered in countries like Denmark, Finland, and Iceland?|
Explores ethical, moral, or practical ideas of solutions based on available information.
|Example: Should state money be used to fund school voucher or savings plan programs?|
Explores connections and relationships that contribute to a topic or issue.
|Example: Why do students expect to get a good job after completing a college degree?|
DO THIS: Try it out. See if you can add questions to this running list of research questions.
Before you begin your search it is good practice to develop a handful of keywords or phrases. Use the following strategies to help.
TRY THIS: See if you can add anything to the existing keyword list. Is anything missing? If so, add it to the list.
You'll also need to develop strategies for reading lengthy academic articles quickly. Scholarly articles tend to have similar structures and sections. Knowing how to skim these sections to determine if something is relevant to your research is a good skill to develop. Follow the steps below: