Research Tools

Develop a Research Strategy

When beginning any research project (paper, presentation, multimedia) developing a strategy is a must! This probably won't be a linear process; you will almost always have to refine your strategy by asking more questions, doing more reading and finding additional sources.

1. Decide what information you need.

Sample topic: To what extent do government assistant programs engender dependence?

  • Background Information:
    Use general encyclopedias and books to find out background information to help you develop a search strategy and eventually narrow your topic into a thesis statement. (Wikipedia is a great place to start gathering background information but it should not be used as a source in your paper or project's work's cited.)
  • Articles from news sources, magazines, peer-reviewed journals
  • Primary sources
  • Charts
  • Images
  • Statistics

2. Have a search strategy. 

Figure out where you are going to find your information

Library catalog to find books and ebooks
Internet Search Engines
Research guides (specific to your class and project) 

Brainstorm keywords based on key concepts from your research question.
For example: welfare, “public assistance,” impact, effects, abuse
specific terms: “New Deal,” WIC, “food stamps”
related terms: poverty, unemployment, recession, families

Click here for database searching tips

3. Gather relevant, authoritative information, read and take notes.

You will probably have to go back and gather more information as you begin to narrow your topic into a focused thesis statement.

4. Organize your ideas to begin writing your paper or presentation.

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