Choosing a research topic is the most important step in the research process and takes more time and consideration than many students realize. Keep the following tips in mind when you are starting your research assignment:
1. Understand the requirements of the assignment.
2. Think about your interests and determine how you can connect them with the assignment.
3. Identify about 3 potential topics you would be willing to spend time researching and writing about.
4. Do some initial research on each of the three topics to learn more about them and see how much information is available to you. At this stage, it is okay to use reference-type sources (general books, content encyclopedias, Wikipedia, etc.) as you are getting an overview at this point. These are not sources that you will end up citing in your paper.
5. Select a topic. You may use one of your original three topics or perhaps another one that you came across while doing your pre-searching. Check with your professor for feedback and approval before moving forward with more in-depth research in scholarly materials.
There are different steps you can take to make your search for resources as efficient and effective as possible.
1. Identify the key words in your topic and brainstorm a list of synonyms to increase your chances of finding relevant information.
2. Use the different field boxes in the search tools to maximize finding information (title, keyword, etc.)
3. Use different characters:
4. Use the limiters in the database
Is there such thing as unbiased writing?
What methods can you use to investigate authors, periodicals or publishers?
Journalists are asked to answer these questions when writing an article:
Who, What, Where, When, Why and So What.
We can ask the same questions about the magazines, newspaper and journals that they publish in.
Who is the editor?
The subjects of their investigations?
What is their
Where is the periodical published?
What area does it cover?
When was founded?
How often is it published?
Why: Do they have a mission statement on the masthead, or the official website?
Can you find anything written about the periodical or its editor on the web or in other periodicals?
So what: Would you need to find an opposing viewpoint to balance an article found in this periodical?
What other periodical would have the opposing viewpoint?
Can you use a reference or circulating book to find a wider range of opinion or perspective?
Are these books also pushing an agenda?
Places to find information on a periodical:
Corporate website (Google it, or find the website in the paper copy)
Database website (put periodical title in our catalog search box and follow the hyperlink to the periodical in a database)
Paper copy of periodical has information on the table of contents page or masthead
Investigate the author in a large database like ProQuest or Academic Research Premier as 'person' in the drop down box and as an 'author' to see what else they have written.
Investigate the author or the editor in Google, Google Scholar, or Wikipedia to get a quick idea of their standing in the community.
The main thing is to bring your critical thinking skills with you when you are investigating sources for your research paper.
"A great place to get help developing your writing skills is the University Writing Center. The Writing Center is an academic resource available to all members of the SUA community and to writers of all levels. Its primary mission is to develop communicative skills, engage students in dialogical thinking, and provide writing instruction in alignment with American academic standards. Writing Specialists, who hold professional degrees and are experienced instructors, assist students to become self-reliant and critical learners, thinkers, readers, listeners, and writers. Writing Specialists work with students in 20-minute one-on-one tutorials and also in group workshops tailored for specific purposes. To schedule an appointment with a Writing Specialist or to sign up for a workshop, please visit the Online Scheduler or simply visit the Writing Center.
Please note Writing Center policies: Writing Specialists DO NOT
For more information about the University Writing Center, call 949-480-4060."
Text from SUA website.