Skip to Main Content
Get a brief overview of your topic ideas. This will help you figure out which topic will be best for you.
Spend no more than 5-10 minutes doing this. Be sure to take notes and add ideas and terms to your brainstorm list (probably on a sticky).
Remember, good topics are interesting to you, the researcher, so dig around to find something that really sparks your interest!
Dive deeper into your topic. Find a more dense overview to learn more about your topic. This is the time to revisit the places you went for overviews when you were first selecting your topic.
It's best to use quality sources for this part of the research process. Click the Overviews tab above to find links to great overviews.
Write down what you already know. This may include:
Names of key players
What issues led up to this issue?
This step is meant to take an inventory of what you already know: key terms, people, etc. Keep this as a dynamic document (a sticky is a great idea) that you can add to and refer to throughout the research process.
Search for sources. Books, newspaper articles, viewpoints, magazine articles, and more can be found the tabs above. Use a variety of search terms gathered in the previous steps. At this point in the process, you should be exhaustive. That means you'll need to look at many sources in order to develop and work on a strong research question and thesis. Use the tabs above to find sources
Spend 15-20 minutes at a time searching for information. If you haven’t found anything great in 20 minutes, email Sarah to get back on track!
Do a quick google search and just get a snapshot of what’s out there. What pops up? Government sites? News articles? NGOs? Don’t follow the links yet; just get a sense of what’s out there.
Did your search term act like you expected?
Do you need to try another search term?
Keep a list of search terms that work well.
This is the most important research step! Read the sources you’ve collected so far. Read the abstract (summary) if there is one, then skim the whole thing to make sure the article or source is useful. Next, dig in and take notes! Be sure to cite your sources as you go. Not sure if what you’re citing is a newspaper article, book chapter, or website? Email Sarah and she’ll help sort it out.
Start to make a source wishlist: do you need more primary sources? a quote from a particular politician? a book from an expert? After this, you'll continue to repeat stes 5 & 6 until the research is complete.