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Writing for an A   Tags: library_research, term_papers, thesis_statement, writing  

Get step by step basics for creating a great paper
Last Updated: May 30, 2017 URL: http://libguides.brenau.edu/paper Print Guide RSS Updates

Choosing a Topic Print Page
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Why Do Background Research?

Top 10 Reasons to do
Background Research

10.To find out the basics
9.  Do you even like your topic?
8.  To narrow the topic
7.  Is information is available?
6.  To identify significant people
5.  To identify search terms
4.  To learn the theory
3.  To plan your research
2.  To formulate questions
1.  Because a day in the library can save you a month of work

Background Research Links

Annika's Education by Osmosis - from vlashton on flickr
(Image courtesy of vlashton)

Once you have a general topic in mind, these web pages will lead you to the best places to find background information about your subject.

 

Develop a Concept Map to Narrow Your Focus

 

Starting Research

  1. Suggestions for finding a topic:

    Something that interests you
    Practical research (something for work, something for your future)
    Ask your instructor
    Be flexible with your topic

  2. Describe your topic as a question.

    Example: Let's say that your research topic is adult education.
    What is the difference in online learning speed for adults in higher education from that of the traditional student?

  3. Determine the main concepts in the question.

    Using our example:
    What is the difference in online learning speed for adults in higher education from that of the traditional student?
    Online learning speed; adults in higher education; traditional students

  4. Find synonyms related to your concepts. A good way to do this is look at subject headings.

    Subject Keyword Search

    Go to the library catalog at http://library.brenau.edu. Enter a subject keyword or keywords in the box next to Find. From the menu next to Type of Search, arrow down and select Subject Keyword Search. Click on the Search button. You will see a list of titles related to the subject area that interests you. Select any 'See Also' or 'Info' button in the # column for hints to improve your search strategy.

    Subjects Within A Record

    Perform a search using the keywords "online learning". In the dropdown box select Full Text Keyword Search and hit enter. Click on the first record you see. Scroll until you see "Find more regarding...". Notice all the other words to use while performing your research.

    Using our example:
    Online learning speed; distance learning, learning styles, learning process, learning pace, learning style, computer assisted instruction
    Adults in Higher Education; continuing education, non-traditional age college student
    Traditional Student(s); traditional setting, conventional student(s)

  5. Narrow or Broaden your topic.

    Narrow using our example:
    What is the difference in online learning speed for retired adults in higher education from that of the traditional student?
    Broaden using our example:
    What is the difference in online learning speed for adults in higher education from that of the traditional student? [It already is broad]

  6. Collect background information on your topic.  Background sources such as encyclopedias and handbooks are located in the library's reference collection.

Subject Guide

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Choosing a Topic Links

Many professors will allow you to choose your own topic for a paper, or perhaps let you choose from among a pool of suggested topics. Where do you begin? The links below provide some pointers for choosing a great paper topic.

 

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