A good research paper begins with a good question. It is not just an explanation of or report about a topic.
You start with a question, collect data or information, synthesize the data/information, analyze the data/information in light of the question, and then make your conclusions about the question.
1. Brainstorm 3 or 4 possible research questions for your topic. Ask yourself, "What do I want to know?" List the questions you have thought of.
2. Choose one of those questions as the one you will use, and state it.
3. Drawing on your chosen question, draw up a preliminary outline of 3 or 4 points (your outline) you will need to cover to respond to your chosen research question.
This is your thesis statement- or a hypothesis of the answer to your research question. Since you haven't collected all the data/information yet, it is only a proposal of what your conclusion may be. You will need to demonstrate whether this proposal is correct. Remember, though, to look at all sides of the question. Don't just select information that proves your hypthesis is correct!
This worksheet focuses on identifying the main concepts in your research question, generating synonyms for those concepts, and structuring your search for more effective searching and more productive search results.
Provide your Assumption College email login and password information in order to access the Library’s catalog, e-books and databases of journal articles from off campus.
1. Get an overview of your subject. Use reference sources (print or online) such as those listed to the right to get background information.
Example: racism in the judicial system
2. Define and refine your topic.
Example: What role does racism play in death penalty convictions?
3. Identify key terms, concepts and search terms.
4. Find resources.
6. Evaluate your information, including the number and kinds of sources.
If you want additional help with your research, see our Basic Research Guide.