How to Begin to Research a Topic
Whenever you begin to research a given topic, it is important to follow some basic guidelines. These include conducting an initial literature review, writing your topic as a question, and creating a bibliography page.
Write your topic as a question
Using your topic as a launching point can help you focus your research. You can find information using library databases and online references. These include encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographies, topic pages, and concept maps.
As you can see from the example, it’s not always easy to find the best information on a broad topic. You may have to resort to searching for a more specific topic. You may also have to modify your original topic to better suit your research needs.
To get the most bang for your buck, you should use a combination of primary and secondary sources. While a topic that has been written about extensively will probably be easy to find, you may have to do some hunting to find information on a lesser-known topic. You may also have to consult with your instructor about what types of information are required.
One of the most important aspects of conducting research is determining your audience. You may have to consider organizations and institutions related to your topic, as well as people who may be providing information about the topic.
Conduct an initial literature review
Performing a literature review when researching a given topic is an important step in the academic process. This provides a thorough analysis of research in the area, which can be used to develop research agendas, to make theoretical contributions, and to map the development of research fields.
A literature review should include comprehensive citations of sources. It should also identify the scope of the review, and the methods and analysis that were used. It should also address questions for further research. This helps to build a framework for the research, and to demonstrate good academic practice.
A literature review can be conducted in many different ways, including as part of a larger article, or as an independent piece of writing. In either case, the review should have a clear thesis or statement of purpose. The purpose of the review should be anchored in a specific perspective, and the research should be tied to the thesis statement.
Some forms of literature review may include a background section. This section may describe the methods used to analyze and synthesize the sources, identify gaps in knowledge, and explain how the review contributes to knowledge. The section may also validate or criticize a method of analysis, or demonstrate the validity of a particular approach.
Narrow your scope
Defining the scope of your research project is an important step in the research process. Too broad a topic will make the task more difficult and lead to uninformative results. Narrowing your topic will make it easier to find relevant research and better direction for your paper.
For example, if you want to write a paper on the Battle of Gettysburg, you would want to do more than just explore the battle. You would want to investigate several different topics such as the number of soldiers killed, the causes of the battle, social differences between soldiers, and the battle itself. The Battle of Gettysburg would be too broad a topic for this article, but you can learn more about the topic and the battle by reading books or articles about the subject.
There are many ways to narrow your topic, but one of the most effective is brainstorming. Using a concept map to brainstorm synonyms and key words is one way to do it. Using a graphic brainstorming technique can also be effective.
Include a bibliography page
Including a bibliography page when beginning research on a given topic is important. It gives the reader an opportunity to see which sources were used in your research and allows you to give credit where it is due. The bibliography page can include information about non-print sources as well.
A bibliography is a listing of all the works you have consulted in your research. It includes articles, books, reports, and other materials. It can also include interviews, texts that have had an influence on your work, and reports about the subject of your research.
Your bibliography will also include a summary. This is usually a brief analysis of the source. It includes an assessment of the author’s authority, background, and intended audience.
Your bibliography page should also include a reference list. This list should include all the sources that you used in your research. It can include footnotes, which are notes that identify the source of material.
Your bibliography page should also include an annotated bibliography. Annotated bibliographies are an important part of your research and can help you understand the topic better. Annotated bibliographies are often stand alone assignments, but they can also be a preliminary research project.