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ENC 1102 - Composition II

Research Topics and Questions

Whether you are assigned a research topic or you are given the choice to select your own, try to select a topic that interests you or an approach that interests you. Always consider your assignment requirements:

  1. How long does your paper need to be.
  2. What types of sources are you required to use.
  3. How many sources do you need.

You can always do some preliminary research on a general topic to see what's been written about it and what aspect you'd like to focus on.

Turning your research topic into a series of research questions will help guide your search and ultimately help you use that research to complete your project. Good research questions should be

  • clearly written
  • focused
  • complex (avoid simple yes/no questions)
  • arguable.

Joining the Research Conversation

When you are assigned research projects in college, you are being asked to explore and contribute to research conversations about particular topics. To contribute to that conversation, you first need to find out what scholars and researchers have to say about your topic. That's why using scholarly sources is so important. The most effective and efficient way to locate scholarly sources is to use the library resources, particularly the library databases. Watch this video to find out more about research conversations and library research.

Using Keywords to Search

While you can type whole sentences or questions into Google and still retrieve search results, this approach will not work when searching for your peer-reviewed sources in the library databases. Instead, you will need to break down your topic and research questions into keywords

Let's say you were researching the question should college athletes be paid? Instead of typing that whole question into the search box, you would start by identifying key concepts:

  • college athletes
  • compensation

From there, think of synonyms for those keywords, considering terms that are broader and more specific. For example, some synonyms for "college athletes" could include "student athletes" and "college athletics."