Okay, you've gotten your research assignment now what do you do? Begin by thinking about your project and planning your research strategy.
Here's what you should do before you ever start looking for books, articles, or websites:
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. Try these databases:
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.
This video from Kansas State University will help you learn how to focus your topic.
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:
Using the correct words to search will help you find information that is relevant to your topic.
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. You can use the key terms in your research questions as a start for creating your list of search terms. You should create synonyms for those key words and keep track of useful search terms as you begin your search for information.
In addition, when you search for information you can search using Keywords or using Subject Headings. What is the difference? This video from the University of Otago, Wellington explains the difference well.