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DHC 140 - Articulating Honors

Comfort with Research

Which of the following elements of the research process are you most concerned about?
Not finding material related to my topic: 32 votes (42.11%)
Choosing a topic that isn't debatable/complex enough: 18 votes (23.68%)
Correctly identifying subsequent research steps: 10 votes (13.16%)
Not knowing what to do with the research I find: 5 votes (6.58%)
Knowing who I should talk to for help: 2 votes (2.63%)
I feel great and have no concerns: 9 votes (11.84%)
Total Votes: 76
When I think about research for this topic, which of the following best describes how you feel?
lost in a jungle: 24 votes (22.22%)
captain of a ship and I know where I'm going: 4 votes (3.7%)
doomed, lost at sea: 16 votes (14.81%)
a detective: 43 votes (39.81%)
a cat stalking its prey: 15 votes (13.89%)
Other: 6 votes (5.56%)
Total Votes: 108

Choose a Topic That Interests You

The topics available for you to select 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 grab 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

If you noticed, the first part of choosing a topic required you to do some background research.  Sometimes researchers select a topic, and then try to research it, often much later.

This can lead to a few problems:

  • The topic is too broad, or too narrow.
  • The researcher doesn’t know the specific vocabulary used to describe the topic.
  • Not enough has been written on the topic to complete an assignment.

As a result, finding information can to be frustrating, and may yield results that are less than ideal.

The simple step of researching as a topic is selected can often make the entire process much easier. This can be done if you follow these steps.

  1. Make certain to select a topic that interests you (librarians can help with this!).
  2. Read some background information on your topic.

And then....

  1. Create a research question.
  2. Do a test search on your topic, to see what is out there.
  3. Broaden or narrow your topic as necessary.

When you are doing background research on your topic you want to consult reference sources.  These can be encyclopedias found in the library or online; and yes, in this preliminary phase of research you can use Wikipedia.  Don't cite Wikipedia in an academic paper, but if you are deciding if a topic interests you, go for it.  Just remember that Wikipedia is not consistent and while one entry might be accurate another one may not be.