The first step to any research project is to choose a topic. Often you can choose your own topic, however at times you may be called up to write on a specific topic or to choose from a listing.
Concept mapping can be useful in helping you tease out your subject, identify your key concepts, and finally formulate a strong research question or topic statement. A video can be viewed in the right column of this guide.
When you start thinking about your research project you should start by gathering background information. This information can help:
Finally, it's important to remember that you should have a sound grasp of your topic before you start your research. If you can't easily discuss or explain your topic to friends and/or family, we recommend that you gather more background information. Any gaps in understanding will cause issues in formulating your research question and understanding the literature you will gather to write your final assignment.
Specialized Encyclopedias and Dictionnaries
Reference tools such as specialized encyclopedias are good starting points to find background information on your topic. Here are some online reference tools that will help you familiarize yourself with your topic.