Understand Your Assignment
- Read through your assignment as soon as you receive it.
- Ask your professor right away if there is anything you do not understand.
Formulate Your Research Question
- Unless your professor has already given you a research question, you will have to develop a question that your paper will (hopefully) answer.
- Creating a good research question is an important step – it’s the basis for your entire paper.
- Start with a topic that interests you – and follows the guidelines of your assignment – then refine it until it is workable question.
- If you are having trouble developing a research question, or even deciding on a topic for your paper, talk with your professor as soon as possible.
Develop Searchable Keywords
- Identify the major concepts of your research question – these major concepts are your searchable keywords.
- Build upon some of your initial keywords with synonyms (a thesaurus is often helpful).
- Sometimes a little bit of background Internet research is needed to identify a few more keywords.
- Make a list of keywords that you can keep adding to or crossing out as you do your research.
- Use your keywords to search the library’s catalogue and the library’s databases.
- Start with simple searches – you can always add or change the keywords in your search later on to narrow down your search results.