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Library Research - The Process: Form a Research Question

Steps

 

Example

Research Question: Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?

 

Getting started

STEP ONE…PONDERING 

1.  Generate ideas by…

  • Double-checking your understanding of the parameters of the project
  • Brainstorming with other students
  • Skimming articles in subject encyclopedias or other reference books (see related tab in this guide!)
  • Browsing tables-of-contents in subject-appropriate journals or magazines on the Library’s collection of  Current Periodicals
  • Browsing the reference and circulating shelves for books on your topic
  • Can you make it more personally meaningful by relating it to your major or career interests?

2.  Generate keywords related to your topic (the key to finding books & articles!)

  • Try Google Wonder wheel or other Web brainstorming tools to expand and explore topic ideas
  • To focus your thinking, try to state your research topic as a question
  • Or, what would the title of the perfect book on the topic be?
  • List the important terms and concepts--the keywords that describe your topic…think of broader or narrower terms, and synonyms

Example:  Is spanking appropriate in early childhood education?

spanking

children

school

appropriate

hitting

kids

early childhood  education

useful

punishment

students

k-3

legal

corporal punishment

 

campus

beneficial

 

 

 

harmful

 

 

 

effects

Having keywords in mind, and finding more terms as you scan tables of contents, indexes, databases and so forth, will help you narrow your topic and home in on relevant sources.  

Now to start using your keywords!  Click on the appropriate tabs for using keywords in library catalogs, databases, the Web and other sources.

Tutorial

This tutorial from Arizona State University that will walk you through the process of Developing a Research or Guiding Question.

You can use your Taft College ID# to complete the quiz at the end of the tutorial.