This research guide was created to give you tips on navigating the research process, and highlights key resources for conducting effective library research in your First Year Writing course, and beyond.
Choosing a topic is often feels like an impossible first step, so it is best to keep your topic ideas broad, and then begin honing in on your research question as you encounter research materials. There is no correct way to do research, but the following guidelines might be useful to keep in mind as you begin:
After gathering your background information, refine your intial topic and question based off of what you learned. A good rule of thumb: if there is an entire book on your topic, it is too broad for a research paper. On the other hand, if the topic can be discussed in a few paragraphs, then it is too narrow.
Example: "The role of women in the plays of Shakespeare" is too broad because hundreds of books and articles have been written on this topic; "The symbolism of Ariel's costume in the Tempest" is likely too narrow because there are not enough books and articles discussing this specific detail.
Remember, don't worry if refining your topic happens more than once!