Reseach and Search - 3 Steps
The basics, followed by more details in the example below:
1 - Start by surveying the landscape of a topic - find background information on it and get a general understanding of some of the issues and questions surrounding it. What are people saying about it?
2 - Discover what interests you about the topic. Brainstorm your topic and broaden or narrow it by asking: Who? What? Where? When? Using these questions as an aid, develop a research question related to your topic.
3 - Select the key words in your research question and combine the words. You'll use these key words for searching news and journal articles, web sites/blogs and other sources that will provide evidence in your paper.
Topic: minimum wage
Following Step 1 above, find general information and facts about the topic in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and books; you can also identify ideas authors are talking about on the topic by surveying article abstracts or descriptions.
Step 2 - Create a research question. Drawing on background information gathered on the topic of minimum wage, here's one conversation (among many) going on about minimum wage that was turned into a research question (by asking Who? What? Where? When?):
Can workers earning minimum wage in the U.S. today support a family?
Once you have created a research question, the paper is built around answering the question. Esentially, the research question is the paper's thesis. The paper is built by providing points of evidence/examples that support and defend the writer's thoughts and ideas on the question. Where do you find evidence?
Step 3. Evidence that affirms and/or opposes your thoughts and ideas on the research question is found in commentary, interpretation, and analysis located in articles, blogs, news, and books. Search the latter using key search words relating to your research question.
Here's how. In the example research question above, the key search words are:
workers ... "minimum wage" ... family ... U.S.
Combine the key words:
workers AND "minimum wage" AND family AND U.S.
Finally, using the key words relating to your research question, search the journal and news article resources on the right. Reminder: research and searching is a process. Don't expect to find what you're looking for right away and make sure you search a number of resources. Good luck!
Have questions? Ask a librarian!
Don't have a topic yet? Try browsing Opposing Viewpoints for major topics in the news.