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Research Fundamentals: Plan

A guide to print and online resources for starting your research.

  Develop your Research Question or Thesis

Start by writing a question or statement that describes your topic.  For example:

  • How can architects design buildings that are both aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the goals of sustainability? 

  • The bank bailouts didn't help the U.S. economy.

  • Wikipedia is an important research tool.

  • Is it a good idea to legalize marijuana?

 Select your Research Tools

Here are some questions to help you get started with a class assignment or research project; you may have others. I can't decide on a topic. 
Global Issues in Context     NOTE: Click on Browse Topics to the the issues.
Browse topics will bet you an alphabetical list of all topics.

Do I want a broad overview of my topic?

 Dictionaries and encyclopedias provide concise surveys of ideas, events, historical figures, and other topics.
Books or book chapters may also offer succinct overviews of a topic.

Will my presentation be more effective if it includes photographs?

 The Library provides access to the image database ARTstor .
Visit the Library's Digital Media Commons Studio to learn about other image resources and fair use of images. 

Do I need numbers - data, statistics, or polls - to back up my thesis?

 The Library provides access to Data and Statistics and has a Social Science Statistics subject guide.
 Check out the statistics portal, Statista.

Do I need to read a scholarly article on my topic?  (What is a scholarly article?)

 Scholar OneSearch  is a combined library catalog and article search tool, check Research Guides by Subject. for selected interdisciplinary databases, including Academic Search Complete and JSTOR

Do I need late breaking news on my topic?
We have Newspaper resources and the current news research subject page

Do I need a primary source - eyewitness account, original document? (What is a primary source?)
You may wish to visit the University Archives or consult a staff member at the Research Assistance Desk.

Will I show a DVD, streaming video, or video in my class presentation?  Will I create my own presentation?

Search  Scholar OneSearch , with the library catalog option for media.Consult Digital Media Commons Studio staff about designing an original media project.

  Planning your Research Strategy - Keywords

After you've developed your questions, select the keywords and phrases in the statement and try to come up with others that might apply, in this case:

How can architects design buildings that are both aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with the goals of sustainability?

     sustainable architecture
     sustainable buildings
     sustainable design
     architectural design
energy conservation

Is it a good idea to legalize marijuana?
     marijuana or marihuana -- some databases will allow a wildcard search for both spellings: mari?uana
    medical marijuana
   illegal drugs
   illicit drugs

Take a Break!

What is Rolling Stones legend Keith Richard's secret desire?

Read more courtesy of North Georgia College and State University and The Sunday Times.

Need Help?

Research Tools

Review question: What research materials will help you complete your assignment or answer the questions you've posed?