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ENC 1101 - Composition I

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.

Keywords and Search Terms

After deciding on a topic and having a list of research questions, you will need to breakdown your topic into keywords that you can use as search terms. While you can type whole sentences or questions into Google and still retrieve search results, this approach will not work when searching the library databases. Instead, you will need to identify the main concepts in your topic. This video provides one strategy for identifying effective keywords.