I. Understand the specific requirements of the project:

A. What is the length of the project?

B. What citation style are you supposed to use?

C. How many sources are you required to use?

D. What types of sources are you allowed to use? Are you required to use scholarly journals or primary sources?

E. Are you allowed to use websites?

F. Are you required to use certain types of information, such as statistics or research data?


II. Conduct background research on your general subject area.

A. Identify your general subjects key concepts.

B. Write down specific aspects of the general subject that are interesting to you.

C. Prepare a list of related terms and synonyms for the key concepts and interestingaspects of your general subject.

D. Perform searches with your terms in the library catalog, periodical indexes, and on the Internet.


III. Determine the general subject of your research project.

A. Use reference sources on your general subject area to find aspects of the topic that are controversial or need investigation.

B. Develop a few possible research questions based on what you find in reference sources.

C. Research questions should be one sentence questions that are simple and clear.

D. Select one of these questions for your essay.


IV. Evaluate your search results.

A. Break your general subject down into parts. Think about the aspects of your general subject that you find most interesting.

B. Now, youre ready to write your research question or thesis statement.
State your topic in the form of a question. This will make it easier to identify the main concepts.

C. Search for background information on your general subject.
Use this information to identify key concepts and ideas that you can use as search terms in the library’s databases and catalog.

D. Create a table and list your key terms or main concepts across the top.
Write synonymous terms under each of the key terms. Databases and catalogs sometimes use different terminologies, and you need to be ready to try alternative ways to search.

Use this worksheet to develop your topic: