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WRD 110: Composition & Communication I
First course in a two-course sequence designed to engage students in composing and communicating ideas using speech, writing and visuals.
Use this guide to help you learn how to focus your research topic.
Developing a Research Topic
Once you have selected an initial topic, the next step is to develop research questions. To begin:
Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
Using the information you wrote down, develop questions you'd like to answer when doing your research.
Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should?
Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.
The one minute video below provides more tips.
Find Background Information
Research topics are often formed from a vague or general idea. Background information is used for providing definitions, historical background, or context, and for enlarging your initial idea. Begin with Gale Virtual Reference Libraryto quickly locate information on your topic or to help you focus your topic idea.
When you have a topic in mind, it's a good idea to start thinking about words you might use in your search for information related to your topic. The video and tips below provide more information.
Before you can begin searching for information in a print or online resource, you need to identify keywords related to your topic. Key terminology can be found easily by scanning:
Your initial research questions,
Encyclopedia and other articles used when conducting background research,
Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles.
If you are still struggling, then try these suggestions:
Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms.
Find pictures related to your topic, then describe the picture.
Brainstorm keywords with a librarian, your instructor, or a friend.