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Getting Started: Library Research Strategy

This guide is intended to help you develop a strategy for conducting research.

Crafting a Research Question

A research question guides and centers your research. It helps you avoid the pitfall of finding too much information and drives the research to a defined end.

Choose a general topic of interest and conduct preliminary research on this topic in current periodicals and journals to see what research has already been done. This will help determine what kinds of questions the topic generates. Once you have conducted preliminary research, consider: Who is the audience? Is it an academic essay, or will it be read by a more general public? Once you have conducted preliminary research, start asking openended “How?” “What?” and Why?” questions. Then evaluate possible responses to those questions.

Here's an example:

Idea: Reality television

Research question: In what ways did the writers' strike of 2008 affect the rise in popularity of reality television?

As you find and review your sources, you will discover the answer to your research question. That answer becomes your thesis statement.

Formulating a Research Question [title card]Formulating a Research Question

Watch this video for tips on how to formulate a defined question to drive your research and help you avoid the pitfall of too much information. Just click on the title above to access the video. (Transcript | 4:54)