It's important to begin your research by learning something about your subject; in fact, you won't be able to create a focused, manageable thesis unless you already know something about your topic.
This step is important so that you will:
Reference sources are scholarly sources filled with thorough yet concise discussions that let you know the “who, what, when, why, and where” information on your topic right at the start of your research. You'll find reference sources in the library and online.
Top Picks for Background Reading:
Why Research Questions?
Research questions help you focus your topic and give you a series of questions that you'll spend your research time answering. You'll create your questions based on the background reading that you do.
Watch the brief video below for more information on how and why you create research questions.
Here's an example of questions that I would use to define and focus my research on interpersonal communication and social media.
Broad Topic: The effect of social media on self esteem and behavior
Research Questions to Define Your Topic
To find information that is relevant to your topic you need to know what words to use for searching.
How Do You Find The Search Terms You Need?
The discipline of psychology has a great tool called, the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms that you can use in MJC's east campus library. The thesaurus shows you words that different search engines and research tools use to organize their information to make it searchable. You can also use it to discover terms that are related to your topic in case you need to broaden or narrow your search.
In addition, Library catalogs and many other search tools use Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the content of all of their books, eBooks, CDs, DVDs, etc. Useful subject headings for psychology are:
mental health (you can also use specific conditions as a subject, i.e., schizophrenia)