Lecture notes you can use "out of the box" or customize for your classes.
SELECTING A TOPIC
Choosing an interesting topic can be challenging especially if your instructor gives you an "open topic" or says "write about ANYTHING!"
Ask: How do you select a topic?
A good topic may be one that you:
NARROWING A TOPIC
Students often start with a broad topic such as Global Warming, Immigration, Eating Disorders, Environment, etc.
If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information and not be able to focus.
Narrow your topic to something manageable... [pick and choose from among these.]
Think of who, what, when, where, and why questions
WHITEBOARD EXAMPLE: Broad Topic: Eating Disoders [Ask: Who, What, When, Where, Why]
WHO: (Population) Age, Gender, Race, Ethnicity
Topic example: Eating disorders in elderly asian females
WHAT: (Types) Anorexia, Bulimia, Compulsive Eating
Topic example: Anorexia and female college students
WHEN: (Time Frame) Current/Historical view; Period of Life
Topic example: Bulimia in college students
WHERE: (Places---local, national, international) States/Regions, Countries
Topic example: Cultural implications of eating disorders in Asia.
WHY: (Evaluate) Causes, treatment, outcomes
Topic example: Successful methods for treatment of compulsive eating disorders
Mix n Match elements that you derive by asking questions (Who, what, When, etc.) until you find an interesting topic.
Causes and treatment (why) of anorexia nervosa (what) in college students (who)
Prevalence of Bulimia in teenage males in the U.S.
Changes in treatment of compulsive overeaters, 1950 to present.
Research usually starts with a question, and formulating that question can be the hardest part of the process.
A research question is what you really want to find/discover. It is a clear, focused, concise, complex, and arguable question around which you center the research.
A thesis statement is a proposed answer to a research question.
State your research topic as a question or write out your research topic as a thesis statement.
A research question is the:
Organizing element for the topic
Focuses the search into a narrow topic area
Guides your literature search
Sample Research Question: How has Higher Education contributed to the sucess of immigrants in the United States?
Once you have a research question, you are not stuck with it. Expect to adjust and/or refocus your research question once you start researching. You may find that there is not enough information to adequately answer the question or you may find a different angle on your topic that you may find more interesting. Be flexible and expect change.