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SHB PHI237: Starting Your Research

Choosing a topic

Use this checklist as you consider topics:

___  Did you review the expectations for the paper/project?  Does your topic meet the expectations?

___  Is your topic interesting to you?

_X_  Will you be able to find enough quality sources on this topic?

___ If the paper/project requires you to write at length--let's say 5 pages--ask yourself if you can write 5 pages of quality content on your topic?

As you consider these questions, do some preliminary reading about your topic.  Even brief background reading will help you understand some of the basic concepts, terms and scope of your topic.

From topic to question...

Broad to Narrow

Creating a Research Question

Broad

Restricted

Narrowed

Research question

Technology

Surveillance

Government surveillance of private citizens

In what circumstances, should the United States government be permitted to monitor the communication of its citizens?

Technology

Digital divide

Digital divide in the United States

In what ways does the digital divide impact student success in U.S. schools?

Technology

Hackers

Hacktivists

How does Edward Snowden's release of confidential government documents benefit a democratic society?

Too much topic?

Most topics have multiple issues associated with them--way beyond what you could cover in a single assignment. Don't waste time gathering information you won't be able to use!

The Internet Public Library gives excellent advice for defining the focus of your research.