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Library DIY

A how-to guide with advice, videos, tutorials, and quizzes

a. CHOOSING & FOCUSING A TOPIC

Quick Advice

  • Brainstorm by identifying your area of interest. Determine your topic by focusing on related subjects or components. 

  • Narrow your topic by first formulating a research question. The answers to your research question will become your thesis statement.

  • Write descriptions of topics to get a better understanding of your topic as a whole. 

  • Use a concept map to make connections between ideas and keywords.

  • Finding too many resources? Your topic may be too broad. 

  • Not finding enough resources? Your topic may be too narrow.

b. GATHERING BACKGROUND INFORMATION 

Quick Advice
General information and reference sources such as encyclopedias and reports provide a short overview or background of topics so you can gain the basic knowledge to dig deeper in your research.

Gathering background information is an essential step in the research process because it gives you get a basic understanding of your topic and helps you to familiarize yourself with possible topic options to research. 

Background information will also help you explore good keywords and key phrases for searching and writing your thesis statement. 

Here's an example of how to use a report from Issues & Controversies to gather background information and generate a list of keywords and key phrases: 

c. Moving From Topic to Thesis

Quick Advice
Once you’ve done your background research, and have some ideas, it’s time to turn your topic into one focused, clear research question.

Research questions serve as a guide for the kind of specific information you need to compile on your topic. A successful research question enables you to focus your search for sources and leads you to new insights. It should ask something of interest to you, and should be significant and relatable to your readers.

A strong research question is a mechanism for focusing and narrowing your research and should generate interest by addressing an important or complex issue. Your research question becomes your thesis or thesis statement.