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Writing for an A

Get step by step basics for creating a great paper

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.