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DHC 270 - Integrated Learning

This guide will help you with your research project for Professor Dieu's DHC270 class.

Be Interested in Order to be Interesting

The topics available for you to research are often dictated by various factors, such as assignments, classes, professors, or research agendas. However, even within these constraints, it is important to find a topic that grabs your interest.

If you have an open-ended assignment, browsing CQ Researcher can help you decide on a topic by giving you a jumping off point.

Preliminary Research

Before you decide on a topic, do some background research:

  1. Select a topic that genuinely interests you.
  2. Ask a research question about that topic.
  3. Do a variety of test searches to see what research has already been published on your topic.
  4. Broaden or narrow your topic as necessary.

When you are doing background research on your topic, consult reference sources. These can include encyclopedias and other reference works found in the library or online; and yes, in this preliminary phase of research you can use Wikipedia. However, NEVER cite Wikipedia as a reference for your research. Wikipedia is not a formally peer-reviewed resource, the authors are unknown, and content in Wikipedia changes over time.

Remember that your topic and your research question can change, especially if the topic is too broad (or too narrow), or if research on your particular topic has not yet been published.

Create a Research Question

Now that you’ve done background research, your topic should be clearer. It can help at this point to create a concept or mind map that demonstrates the interconnected aspects of the topic and how they relate to each other.


Use the aspects of the topic that are of most interest to you to ask a question that your research will answer. This question will guide your research, helping you to stay focused. It is often helpful to revisit your research question throughout the research and writing process in order to maintain that focus.

Example research questions:

  • How has the obesity epidemic affected Native communities in the United States?
  • How has the economy of North Dakota been affected by fracking?

As you can see, these questions take specific aspects of the broader topics of “obesity” and “fracking,” and narrows them both into focused queries that a thesis statement then begin to answer.