Identify your information needs and research goals.
Identify potential sources and explore available information.
Narrow your research direction to a manageable focus.
Print yourself a copy of this brainstorming worksheet in the early stages of your research. Write down all of your ideas, even if they seem silly or unimportant. The point of brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible, not to evaluate them.
Defining your topic early is critical since it directly affects the rest of the research process. Sometimes, this first step of the process is the hardest. If you need help getting started, ask yourself the following questions:
Gathering background information has important uses. It can help you estimate the amount of material available on your chosen topic and decide if it will be sufficient. You may also pick up related terms, concepts, and synonyms you can use in your searching. Some good places to look for background information are:
It is also known as brainstorming, and is very useful for generating topics and keywords for your writing. You can create a mind map by hand using pen and paper, or find an online tool.
These databases focus on current issues and trends. They provide information such as current situation of the topic, chronology, and opposing viewpoints. They are helpful when beginning to research a topic that you are not familiar with or if you want to know more about what both sides are saying.
In-depth, unbiased coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, economy, and global affairs.
Current social issues presented in topic pages with a variety of data on differing points of view.
Multiple sides of current issues, such as Iraq or stem cell research, for debates and position papers. Each topic features an overview/objective background , point (argument) and counterpoint (opposing argument).