1. Scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry.
2. Close, careful study.
means searching again – finding and
studying what others have written with the hope
of seeing or adding something new. It can be a
time-consuming process to search through the vast
amount of available material for specific information
pertinent to you. Experienced researchers have
found that by following a search strategy, they
can save time and avoid unnecessary frustration.
The following steps outline an effective
strategy for finding information to support
a research paper in religious studies, the humanities and social sciences.
Choosing a Topic
Your enjoyment of research and the
quality of your final product depends a great deal
on the topic that you chose. A topic that is too
broad will leave you a bewildering array of facts
and ideas that cannot be handled in a short paper.
A topic too narrow or too new will leave you stranded
with a few lonely facts to stretch over many pages.
A topic that bores you will bore your readers.
When choosing a topic, keep in mind
the following important factors:
1. Choose a topic that excites
you, and that you can make interesting to your
2. Choose a topic that you can
cover adequately within the time and word limit
3. Choose a topic that can be
documented in the library. Avoid subjects too new
or of such limited, local interest that they are
unlikely to be in discussed in books or journals.
4. You must be able to find facts
and ideas supporting the points that you make in
State your topic as a question.
List other questions that you must
answer to address the topic.
Topic: What are the effects of television
violence on children?
- How many hours of television
do children watch?
- How are violent children's programs
- How many acts of violence are
in some typical children's cartoon?
- Are there research studies
that have observed children before and after watching
a violent program?
Finding Background Information
Refer to encyclopedias for an overview
of the topic and check dictionaries for unfamiliar
terms. The research guide will list starting points
such as key bibliographies in an area, and books
that discuss how to conduct research in a particular
field, how to write an essay, and how to prepare
to Search Electronic Indexes
Underline the main concepts or keywords
in your topic statement. Brainstorm for related words
that express the topic in preparation for searching
the online catalogue.