Time to Write

Now that you have seen how you might go about taking a general topic and developing some specific ideas about that topic, it’s your turn to try to narrow your topic and develop some research questions. In the sample, you see that the student is able to choose her paper topic, so she is still working to narrow down a very broad topic. If your professor has assigned a topic to you, you’ll still likely need to work to narrow it, to find a specific angle to take. Developing a research question will help guide you as you continue the process. Write down your research topic and questions in your journal or in notes to give you a chance to review your thinking.

And, remember, it’s okay if you don’t know the answer to your research question yet. In fact, it would be ideal if you don’t yet have the answer. After all, the research process is about learning and discovering. So, once you have your research question, be willing to learn something new about it!

You might need to first conduct a little preliminary research on the web to see what is being said on your topic. Then, try writing about your topic, listing everything you know in your journal or notes. From that list, see if you can find a research question—or even a few research questions—you might like to explore. Write those questions down. Which one is most interesting to you? Which one will also work for your assignment?

Share your questions and thoughts with your classmates or someone else in order to talk through your research question and get ideas. Getting feedback throughout your process is a big help!

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