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First Year Writing: Legacy of the Mediterranean II


Photograph of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford

 

 

Welcome!

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.

Documents

The Research Process

The Research Process

 
Choosing a topic

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:

  • Pick a text that interests you and a theme or idea that you want write about
  • Come up with a preliminary question, but keep it loose
  • Brainstorm some keywords to help you begin your research

Finding Background Information
  • Use web resources like Wikipedia and Google searches to brainstorm and identify additional keywords for your topic
  • For authoritative reference resources (like scholarly encyclopedias) see the Reference Resources for Legacy of the Mediterranean II page. These resources:
    • Are written by scholars in their fields, so you can trust the information they provide
    • Give you an overview of your topic,  background information, and help define terms you aren't familiar with
    • Contain bibliographies to help you find more information related to your topic
    • Can help you find more keywords, phrases, people and ideas to further your research
       
Refining Your Topic

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!