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Get to Know Your Assignment
Do you understand your research assignment and what is expected of you?
Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand your assignment and its requirements. Consider the following:
Have you been assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
Do you need to include specific types of sources? (e.g., scholarly journal, book, government document)
When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to do your research?
Is currency of information important?
When in doubt, consult your instructor.
First, get organized! The calculator will help you break down the project into manageable "chunks" so you can work on it little by little, rather than leaving it all until the last minute.
University Writing Center
Contact the WC for feedback during the writing process.
Choose a Topic
Can’t think of a topic to research?
Scan your textbook for broad topic ideas.
Peruse current magazines and newspapers to see what catches your eye.
Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian or a classmate.
Browse some online news sources to discover "hot topics."
Browse some of the following resources:
Search for and find electronic encyclopedias for your subject and explore terms for topic ideas.
Steps to Develop a Topic and a Research Question
Video used with permission from NCSU under Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license
Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be found easily by scanning:
Your initial research questions,
Encyclopedia and other articles used when conducting background research,
Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles.
If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:
Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture.
Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.
What keywords should I use to search?
Brainstorming Keywords worksheet below illustrates how to start thinking about keywords.
Questions? Ask your Librarian!