How Do I Get Started?

Choosing a Research Topic

The ability to develop a good research topic is an important skill. Sometimes, an instructor may assign the subject to you, but most often you will need to decide on your own.

When designing your research topic or question, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a topic that interests you!
  • Make sure your topic is not too broad or too narrow. 
  • Browse textbooks, encyclopedias, or other reference materials: Background reading can help you choose the focus of your research topic.
  • Be flexible: As you do research, be willing to shift perspectives or modify your focus if necessary.


Collecting Research on Your Topic

You can use the Gellert Library's DISCOVERY search to find books and academic articles. Or you can browse academic databases by subjectFor detailed instructions on finding print books, ebooks, and articles, use the "Find Books" and "Find Articles" pages on the left.

Some things to keep in mind while collecting research are:

  • How many sources do you need? Does your assignment require a certain number?
  • Are your sources current and relevant? 
  • How comprehensive should your review be? How many years should it cover?

As you read through the research you will begin to see on what topics scholars have and have not written. This process will help you to narrow your topic.


Reviewing The Research

Here are some questions that can help you analyze the research you've collected

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions. Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited?; if so, how has it been analyzed?

Writing a Literature Review