Identify and Develop Your Topic

  1. Was your research topic assigned to you, or are you allowed to select your own topic? When you are allowed to select your own research topic, consider the following for ideas:
    1. Your own interests
    2. Current events
  2. What are the parameters of the assignment? 
    1. What are the length requirements for the assignment? 
    2. How many sources are you required to cite? 
    3. Is currency of information important? 
    4. What formats (books, journal, Intermet sources, etc.) are you required/allowed to cite? 
    5. When is the assignment due?
  3. Identify your research topic by stating it as a question, "How did World War I set the stage for World War II?" and identify the main concepts of your topic: 
    1. Drastic limitations on Germany's armaments and trade. 
    2. Demilitarization of the territory on the right bank of the Rhine River. 
    3. Internationalization of several rivers and the Kiel Canal. 
    4. Reparation payments required from Germany. 
    5. Germany's renunciation of territories in Europe and all overseas colonies. 
    6. Initiation of international organizations in the League of Nations and World Court.
  4. Test your research topic by looking for the main concepts in the library catalog and periodical indexes. 
    1. If you are having trouble finding sources, broaden your search by using the Boolean operator OR between your search terms. 
    2. If you are finding too many sources, narrow your search with the Boolean operator AND between your search terms.
  5. Find Background Information on Your Topic in general and subject specific encyclopedias and other reference works in the library. This step will help you clarify in your mind what types of information you are looking for when you begin your in-depth research.


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