Important Changes at the Library this Fall
Since most of our buildings are closed, some in-person Library services or resources described on this page are currently unavailable. For more details on how the Library can help this semester, check out our services updates or feel free to email us, chat with us, or reach out to a librarian or specialist in your discipline.

Defining your research question

A broad research topic such as cancer, gender issues, or climate change is just a starting point. You must narrow it down and pinpoint the aspect you want to focus on by defining the research question you will answer through your assignment. This will also enable you to find relevant sources more easily.

A good question should be:

  • Finite: Its focus should be on a specific aspect of a topic, keeping the length of your assignment in mind.
  • Clear: The key concepts and their relationships for search purposes are clear.

Question tips

  • Consult sources such as specialized encyclopaedias and books for background information and an overview of your topic.
  • Brainstorm and concept map your topic. A brainstorming exercise will enable you to identify possible areas of your topic to focus on. Then organize them in a concept map showing the links and relationships between your ideas.

Next: Developing your search strategy

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