Developing a Research Question or Thesis:
Questions to consider while doing your research:
What is the purpose of the assignment?
Ex. What kind of essay are you writing? Persuasive? Argumentative?
Why have you chosen this topic?
Why would your readers be interested in this topic?
What types of sources will you need?
Ex. Articles from library databases? Newspapers? Online articles? eBooks? Print?
Ex. Primary sources? Secondary sources? Tertiary sources?
What kind of information will you need to find?
Ex. Current? Historical? Scientific study? Surveys?
How will you search for these sources?
Ex. What is your search strategy? Concepts and keywords?
Where will you find these sources?
Ex. Library databases? Reports? Websites?
Does your topic connect to present day conditions in society?
Search Strategies: using keywords, synonyms / related concepts and truncation:
Relevant keywords are necessary for effective research. You can start by taking keywords from your thesis statement.
There are other ways to develop additional keywords.
1. Use synonyms and related concepts:
Think of other words that mean the same or similar things as the words in your question. It can help to brainstorm before you begin your search.
Look at the subject terms in your search results and see if you can use any of those.
2. Use truncation:
You can broaden your search results by typing an asterisk symbol * at end of the root of a word. When you do this, the computer will search for alternative endings for the word you have typed.
For example, typing abol* will yield results for:
Abolish abolition abolitionist(s) abolishment abolished abolishing
Typing 187* or 18*70s will yield results for
All the years of the 1870s
3. Create parameters
Limit your topic to a specific time period or geographical region.
Ex. Reconstruction in Georgia
4. Refine your topic
Start with a broad topic and narrow it down by thinking of some of the issues associated with it.
Ex. Broad topic: American Civil War
Narrowed topics: Battle of Chickamauga, Braxton Bragg, Army of Tennessee
Thesis: General Bragg’s failure to pursue the Federalist forces after winning the Battle of Chickamauga was a missed opportunity for the Army of Tennessee.