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Research Starter Toolkit

This guide will help you learn how to use library resources in order to complete your research. Here you will learn how to access library databases, journal articles, books, and more.

Brainstorming a Research Topic

The first step of any research assignment is brainstorming possible research topics.

Since it is likely you'll be working on your research assignment for an extended period of time, it is important for you to select a topic that you are passionate about or interested in exploring. This can include topics that you're already familiar with and want to learn more about, or topics that are new to you that you're looking to explore. 

To begin the brainstorming process, it is often helpful to free write for 5-10 minutes on a topic or issue of interest to you. During this process it may be helpful to reflect on the following:

  • What is everything you know about this topic/issue? 
  • How do you know this? Are you sure that what you know is correct? What other possibilities exist?
  • What questions do you have about your topic? Do more free writing on what you don't know.

When you have finished, read through your notes and highlight any themes and ideas have emerged. 


Try a KWL Chart

Another brainstorming approach is a KWL chart. Watch the brief video below about creating a KWL chart to kickstart your research topic exploration:



Learn More About Your Topic

Once you have an idea about what you already know about your potential topic and what you want to know, it's a good time to start to learn or review basic information about this topic.

Gathering general background information on your potential topic at this stage of the research process is helpful because:

  • You'll start to find answers regarding what you want to know about the topic
  • You'll discover the the terminology or specialized language related to the topic 
  • You'll begin to notice sub-topics and/or related topics that will help you hone the focus of your research question 

Check out the following resources to find background information on your topic: 


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