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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: Step 1: Developing a Topic

Defining the Task

Before starting your assignment or your research, the first step is to make sure you understand your assignment:

  • Have you been given a topic or can you choose your own?
  • How long is the assignment?
  • When is the assignment due?
  • Do you need to use any specific types of sources?

Coming Up With Ideas

If you are struggling to come up with a topic try:

  • Scanning your textbook and recommended readings
  • Talking to your lecturer, supervisor or classmates
  • Reviewing your lecture notes
  • Think about what areas caught your interest

Refining Your Topic

You might find you are finding either too much or not enough information on your research topic.

If you are finding too much information, try narrowing your topic. Consider using specifics such as a period of time, location, a group of people, or a particular aspect of your topic.

If you are finding too little information your topic may be too specific and you may have to broaden your research.You may have to look at a wider area or time period. Try using different databases. You might have picked a topic that is very current and does not have a lot written about it yet; you might have to reconsider the specifics of your research topic if this is the case.

Picking a Topic is Research

Developing Research Questions

Once you have chosen a topic, think about and write down what you know and what you don't know. Use this information to help you develop a research question.

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