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Prof. Alammar - Eng. 101 FALL 2021: Developing a Research Question and Search Strategy

Developing a Research Question

  • Understand the assignment!     
  • What are the requirements?
  • Use analytical thinking and strong arguments.

Developing a Thesis:

Questions to consider while doing your research:

               What is the purpose of the assignment?

               What kind of information will you need to find?

               What types of sources will you need?

               How will you search for them?

               Where will you find these sources?

               Why is this topic important?

               Why would your readers be interested in this topic?

               How will you convince them?

Planning Your Search Strategy

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 or research question.

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.

  • Global warming OR climate change OR greenhouse gas
  • Teens OR teenagers OR adolescents OR high school students
  • College OR university
  • Marijuana OR cannabis
  • Vaping OR e-cigarettes OR electronic cigarettes

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 crim* will yield results for:

     Crime, crimes, criminal, criminals, criminology, criminality‚Äč

     Play* will yield results for plays, played, player(s), playing, playful, playfully, playground       

     Permi* will yield results for permit,  permits,  permitted,  permission,  permissive,  permissiveness, permittivity

3. Create parameters

            Limit your topic to a specific time period or geographical region.

             Ex. Hunger Insecurity in Africa

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:  Mental illness

                  Narrowed topics:  personality disorders, exercise addiction, depression, bipolar disorder

                  Research question: Is borderline personality disorder more prevalent in women than in men?           

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