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Research question template with citations  

Last Updated: May 1, 2015 URL: Print Guide
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Step 1- Write A Research Question

What is a research question?

A research question answers the question what do I want to know about this topic? A research question is a key component of your research paper as it frames the direction of exploration of a topic. An effective research question has the following characteristics:

  • Is an engaging question- this inquiry should interest you and your audience
  • Is clear and concise- someone reading this question can understand what you are trying to answer
  • Is not too broad or too narrow: The question is appropriate for the scope of the paper.
  • Is focused: The question identifies specific points to consider

For more guidance on writing a research topic, use these resources:
From George Mason University
From Empire State Colelge


Step2: Develop Keywords

Condense your main ideas into important words

Brainstorm words and phrases that will help answer your research question. For each word or phrase, think of another word or phrase that has a similar meaning. Create a mindmap of these words to build relationships among topics and identify words to use in your research.


Create your own mindmap


Step 3: Explore Resources

Search for books and articles


Books are a good choice for broad or in-depth examination of a subject. Search the Griswold Library catalog for print and electronic books.

Would you like get a general overview or background information about a topic? Try:
Credo Reference: for general and subject specific encyclopedia and dictionaries
Points of View Reference Center- for a topic overview plus in-depth articles on social issues

For more in-depth articles try:
Academic Search Complete- for articles from academic journals, newspapers, and magazines. These articles tend to address specific and focused questions.
Proquest Research Library for articles from academic journals, newspapers, and magazines. These articles tend to address specific and focused questions.
JSTOR- articles from academic journals. These articles tend to address specific and focused questions


Step 4: Identify specific sources

Citations and explanation

After searching the catalog and database to find books and articles identify specific sources that will inform your research question. On the class handout, provide citations for 3 sources and explain how the source applies to your research question.

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