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Gather Background Information

Background information is crucial to understanding your topic and getting ready to search for sources.

Taking time to do background research will actually make your search process go faster and easier in the long run. Take about 20 minutes at the beginning of research process to do this and when you are searching for sources, you'll find that it is easier to come up with search terms and much easier to spot quickly which articles are relevant and which aren't.

While reading background information you'll want to jot down key terms and names that you can search on when finding books and articles on your topic. Manysites also include a bibliography that can lead you to more resources.  

Of course library resources like Credo are good places to start your research but there is nothing wrong with starting with a good old fashioned Google Search at this point in the process. Reading a few articles on Google can help you get not only a broad overview of your topic but might give you ideas on how to narrow down your search as well.

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What about Wikipedia? Wikipedia is a great place to start research, especially in popular culture or current affairs. Wikipedia can give you key terms and names to research and provides links to resources but Wikipedia is not an appropriate source to cite in a research paper.

Search Wikipedia:

Create a Research Question

Brainstorm some topic ideas based on your background research. Start broad with these ideas and then use background research to narrow down to a more specific topic.

Now look over those ideas to create a research question. This is the question you want your paper to answer. This question might change as you do your research. You may come across other ideas that interest you more or articles that address your topic from a different perspective.

From there you formulate a thesis statement. The thesis statement is what you think the answer to your research question is. This step might come after you've done some more in-depth research and see what material is out there on your subject.

When you are looking for sources in the library databases, you are looking for articles that help answer your research question and support your thesis statement.

The videos below will give you some good ideas on how to develop a research topic.

Developing a Topic

When you pick your topic, it's not set in stone. Picking and adjusting your topic is an integral part of the research process!

Transcript of this video

This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license. License, credits, and contact information can be found here: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/picking_topic/

Your topic seemed so great! So why can't you find any information on it? If you're looking for an all-in-one source that addresses your topic perfectly, you might need a different approach.

Transcript of this video

This video is published under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA US license. License, credits, and contact information can be found here: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/perfect-source/