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Administration of Justice Research Basics

Learn to research with ease using credible, college-appropriate resources to frame, guide, and inform your projects

Select A Meaningful Topic

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:

  • What makes you tick? What defines you?
  • What problems affect you or someone close to you?
  • What do you think the biggest problem in society is?

You'll want to consider the following issues before you select your topic:

  • Will it sustain my interest?
  • Does it fit the parameters of my assignment?
  • Is credible information on this topic readily available?

You can get ideas for research topics from several MJC article databases and from the Web.

Focus Your Topic

Once you identify your topic, your next task is to focus your research into a manageable working thesis.This involves clearly defining the specific aspect of the topic you will explore in your paper. This defining process is essential; people spend their entire lives researching and publishing on topics, while you only have a few pages. A thesis will keep you focused and ultimately save you time!!!!

When deciding your focus, pay attention to the parameters of your assignment. Ask yourself questions like: How long is the finished product supposed to be? What can you reasonably cover? Is your task to inform your audience about an issue, to argue a certain point of view, or to attempt to solve a problem? The answers to these questions will affect the way you approach your research and the types of sources you use to inform you.

Remember: You might not begin your research with a clearly-formed thesis. Sometimes you won't be able to formulate your thesis until after you have done your background research!

Here are some methods you can use to begin focusing your topic:

Do some background research. Take a few minutes to run your topic through the library catalog and the article databases. Note how others are exploring your topic. What grabs you? What doesn't?

Go back to why you chose your topic. What made you choose your topic in the first place? Sometimes articulating the "why" out loud will reveal the direction you want to go.

Talk to others about your topic. In addition to checking in with your professors and librarians, talk to your friends, family and classmates about your topic. Having your topic reflected by someone else can often spark great ideas; also any chance to articulate your topic out loud is beneficial.