It may sound simple but understanding your assignment is one of the most important steps you take towards writing a good paper. Your instructor carefully crafted the assignment and may have even used language you can use to guide your search for useful information.
Pay special attention to:
Whenever you are given the freedom to do so, select a topic that genuinely interests you and/or is relevant to your life. Do a quick inventory:
You'll want to consider the following issues before you select your topic:
You can get ideas for research topics from several MJC article databases and from the Web.
Best Bets Library Databases:
You want to approach your research as a quest to uncover answers to questions that didn't exist before. Seeking information to answer research questions is fun and it helps you explore your topic fully.
The video below explains why you should always begin your search for relevant, credible information by creating a list of research questions that will drive your research.
You can also check out our Develop Research Questions tutorial at the link below:
To make your topic manageable and meaningful you need to focus on particular aspects of it. You'll get too much information if you stick with an overly-broad concept like global warming; you'll get too little information if you just try to answer a narrow question like What are the causes of global warming.
Your research questions help you identify various aspects of your topic so that you can approach it from different angles, but your questions aren't your topic.
To learn how to focus your topic, look at this brief tutorial from Colorado State University.
Click on the Image Below to Launch the Tutorial:
Using the correct words to search will help you find relevant information. Different authors and search tools use different words to describe the same concepts, so it is useful to have a list of similar and related terms in your arsenal when you set out to search for relevant information. The process of creating these alternative terms is called brainstorming terms or concept mapping.
The University of Illinois Undergraduate Library illustrates this process well in their brief video called, Developing Your Topic with a Concept Map.