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The Research Process & Topic Selection and Narrowing

Do you know when a topic is too big? How narrow does your topic have to be for a 5-7 page paper? Find out here! (Adapted from a Prezi by Becky Canovan)

Lucia Otrisalova

on 2 October 2016

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Transcript of The Research Process & Topic Selection and Narrowing

The Research Process
Research Question
Thesis Statement
Annotated Bibliography
Paper Draft
Final Paper
Background Information
Finding articles and books
Finding evidence

Find more research ?
Find more research ?
You get to choose your own topic.
Pick something that is interesting to you.
What do you already know?
What do you want to know?
Web searches
General texts
It's the question you are trying to answer in your paper.
It drives your search.
Important way to narrow your topic
"What is ____?" is not a good research question... Dig deeper! If it is boring to you, it's probably boring to your professor and to the others who are peer reviewing your work.
Spill coffee on
Translate from "fancy scholar language" into "real people speak"
...On print-outs and photo copies only, please!
Sort of like your topic sentence. It answers your research question!
These two elements are SUPER-important. They form the foundation for your paper. The research question is why you are searching and the thesis statement is what you found that answers the question.
Paragraph explaining what the source is, what it is about, and how you will use it to answer your research question.
The citations (using correct formatting) of the sources you used.
Do your annotations as you read the article.
Look at the main argument & supporting evidence in the articles when writing your annotations. It will help you fill out the details of your outline later.
The evidence you find to help you answer your research question and write your thesis is the same evidence you use when writing your paper to support your thesis.
Organizing your ideas and evidence (research) into a logical argument & structure. It's the skeleton of your paper.
Putting it all together for the first time.
Filling out your arguments from your outline.
Making it look pretty and make sense to others.
You made it! Hallelujah!
Letting others review your work (peers, professor).
Using their comments and suggestions to improve your paper.
At the same time, it's not like you have to live with it for the rest of your life, just for a few weeks. It's only a paper, not a marriage....
The key to a good outline is making it more than just 1 word per line. Use full sentences (and quotes--be sure to cite sources and page numbers). The more work you put into your outline, the easier it will be to write your paper draft!
Things to include in your outline:
Full sentences
Quotes with citations
Your argument
...It is the whole point of your paper; you should probably include it...
Of course!
You're going to use quotes eventually, so why not start out organized (and impress your professor along the way by showing how awesome your sources are).
Because your professor doesn't know what you mean by "evidence" or "more here."
Research doesn't only happen in the beginning stages. You may have to go back and find more information--It's all part of the process!
Just because we put it in this order doesn't mean you have to follow it exactly! Feel free to revise your thesis once you've completed your outline or tweak your research question after your first draft!
Adapted from a Prezi by Becky Canovan, University of Dubuque
What is research?
Research is systematically investigating what is
known about a topic in order to reach new
conclusions and establish new facts.
Why do research?
Research is the basic way that our society builds
on its knowledge, solves problems, and invents
new ways to do things.
What do you care most about?
What kind of things do you wonder about as you fall asleep at night?
What issues in your community or the world make you sad/angry...?
Topic vs. Question
general subjects for research
* climate change
* tattoo
* child abuse
* hiphop
Topics can lead to many different questions.
specific information that you want to know about a topic
Is it possible?
Too thick questions
* based on opinions rather than facts
* have infinite answers
* unfocused
Why is there racism?
What is the meaning of life?
Is there life on other planets?
How can I become successful?
Too thin questions
* too specific
* can be answered in one word/ sentence
* only need one source to answer completely
Why are leaves green?
How many days are in a year?
At what temperature does gas freeze?
Just right questions
* fact-based
* have multiple sources
* specific and focused
* lead to an analytical answer with multiple parts
How did the Great Migration change life for African-Americans during the early 20th century?
What causes AIDS to spread so quickly in Africa, and how can it be prevented?
Why is hemp currently illegal, and what are the industrial and commercial uses for hemp?
smaller questions that add up to answer your research question
What do I need to find out in order to answer my question thoroughly?
questions to ask for:
* definitions
* dates
* names
* steps in a process
How has Boston's geography changed
since it was founded? What factors led
to these changes and how have they
impacted the city?
original land size
specific times geography has changed
reasons people changed the geography
methods used to alter the geography
impacts on people
impacts on the environment
What are the arguments for and against gun control? How has gun policy changed over the past 20 years?
gun control
gun policy
Not all sources are created equal.
Some are much more useful and reliable than others.
Make sure your sources are solid.
1. AUTHORITY: Is the author or organization a recognized authority on the subject?
3. CURRENCY: Is the information up to date?
4. OBJECTIVITY: How is the information biased?
5. RELEVANCY: Is the source about your topic?
2. ACCURACY: Is the information correct?
Can the information be verified in another source?
Are statements supported by evidence and/or citations?
Was the work edited by someone other than the author?

Who is the author and what are his or her qualifications?
With what institutions or organizations is the author affiliated?
What work has the author published in this area previously?
How reputable is the publisher? - Is it published by a University Press or scholarly association?

When was the material published?
Is the date of publication appropriate for your field?Is all of the content up-to-date?
Has the information been revised?

Is the author open about his or her position?
Is the author trying to sway your opinion or advocate a particular position?
Is the material presented based upon research or the author's opinion?
Is the author (or publication) presenting the information in order to sell you something?

Does the information meet your research needs or the requirements of your assignment?
What new information does the material add to your research?
How might you use the information to further your research?

Library Catalogues
Boolean search
Phrase searching
Databases of Academic Journals
What to check before reading the whole article:
If relevant, run through the Bibliography for more.
Finding quality on WWW
learn to understand the domain names:
.com (commercial), .org (non-profit), .edu (educational), .gov (governmental)
what to check:
THE AUTHOR (use whois.net)
documentation (footnotes, endnotes, bibliography)
date of publication
kind of source
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