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POLSC 130 - Political Theory - Miller

Learn to research with ease using credible, college-appropriate resources to frame, guide, and inform your ePortfolio project for Steve Miller's (Polsc 130) class.

Research is Inquiry

What Are You Trying to Figure Out?

Research works best when it is tackled with the true spirit of inquiry.

But you will need to understand your issue thoroughly in order to make a good argument.Think of your research in terms of questions you need to answer: you aren't just looking for information, you're looking for ANSWERS!

Also, keep in mind that good research and critically reading your sources of information will often lead you to more complex questions. So, tune into your natural curiosity and have fun.

Get Acquainted with Your Topic

Preliminary Reading (Getting Started)

It's important to begin your research 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. Also, exploring a topic is much easier if you know something about it.

So, how do you start?

Do a Little Background Reading:

This step is important so that you will:

  • Begin building your core knowledge about your topic
  • Be able to put your topic in context
  • Create research questions that drive your search for information
  • Create a list of search terms that will help you find relevant information
  • Know if the information you’re finding is relevant and useful

Reference sources are highly-credible 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.

Top Picks for Background Reading:

Asking More Questions!

Researcher as Exploration

New knowledge inevitably leads to new questions. Think of a television program involving a criminal investigation. Experts arrive on the scene to answer a fundamental question: "What happened here?" But their investigation merely begins with that basic question. Soon they find themselves answering more specific questions in order to figure out what happened. Who all was involved with the crime? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? Were there any witnesses? 

It is only by answering a series of smaller questions that they are ultimately able to see the big picture. 

A researcher investigates a topic much like a detective investigates a crime. You may start off with an overriding question, but soon find yourself asking many more questions on your journey as you learn more about your topic and become more interested in it.


If you want to learn more about research questions, try our guide, Developing Research Questions:


You might also want to watch this short video explaining the benefits of research questions.