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Thinking Critically About Your Topic

Once you have your research topic, it's time to examine that topic a little further before finding sources and diving into the surrounding research conversation.

The following questions can be used to help you better understand the many facets of your subject and prepare you for completing your in-depth research.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish with your research? What is the purpose?

    • This will serve as the guiding force for your research and will help you identify preexisting research that corresponds to your interests and goals.
  2. What are the core concepts of your research?

    • The core concepts you identify here will most likely become the keywords you use to find sources related to your topic
  3. What are the questions you want to answer or problems you want to solve with your research?

    • When searching for relevant sources, look to see if the research questions said sources are attempting to answer are aligned with or in some way related to the questions and issues you are exploring with your own research.
  4. What information is most relevant to answering those questions or solving those problems? Where can you locate that information?

    • Understanding what type of information you need and where to find it is the first step in conducting an effective search for sources.
  5. What factors make answering those questions or finding solutions to those problems difficult? What are some of the complexities of your research?

    • Considering the difficulties you may encounter early in the research process is key to understanding gaps in the current research and developing strategies to efficiently work around road blocks you may encounter in the search process.
  6. What are you already implying about your research? What assumptions are you making about your topic?

    • Understanding your own assumptions and biases is the first step to conducting fair and impartial research. Doing so enables you to better identify possible biases of other researchers and gauge whether the assumptions others are making are reasonable.

  7. What point of view are you using to consider your research? Is there another point of view that you should consider?

    • Situating your own perspective within the larger research conversation will help to diversify your perspective. It's good practice to be informed about all sides of the research conversation so you can better support your argument.
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