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EASC161 - Earth Sciences - Hughes

Research tips & resources for Noah Hughes' classes

Select A Meaningful Topic

Generating Topic Ideas

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?








Databases to Help You Pick a Topic

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

Click on the button below (then scroll down) to browse our Pick a Topic databases:

 pick a topic databases button

Define & Focus Your Topic

Once you have a general topic in mind you need to start learning something about the subject and working to create a focused, manageable thesis. I've outlined a way for you to create a workable thesis below so that your research will be much easier and your writing much more focused and clear. You'll get a better grade and your teachers will love you for it!

1.  Do a Little Background Reading:

First, you need to do a little background reading. Doing so at the beginning of your research helps you understand your topic right from the start of your hunt for information. You'll be able to put your topic in context and create research questions that drive your search for information. In addition, when you continue hunting and gathering information, you’ll know if what you’re finding is relevant and useful.

You need to begin understanding your topic early in order to know:

  1. What information you need to find
  2. Whether or not what you are finding is relevant
  3. What search terms will lead to successful searches
  4. What information is reliable

You don't even have to read a lot of books to get this valuable background information. In addition to e-books you'll find in the library catalog, you can use the sources listed to the right for your background reading.

2.  Create 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. Just think how much research time you'll save by having a list of questions in hand before you start hunting and gathering information. You'll also know that the information you seek and find is relevant to your topic.

NOTE: You will find Professor Hughes very willing to talk to your group about a topic you are considering. He will help you refine the idea and generate your questions, as well. Do not overlook this valuable resource!

3.  Identify the Key Words or Main Concepts

Your research questions are also a great place to begin choosing key words to use in your searches for information. The success of your search depends largely on using the right words.

Find Background Information

The MJC Library subscribes to several online databases that are great for finding background information.  Try searching in...