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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.
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

Need Help?

Research Tools

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