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WRT 105 Language as a Window into the Mind (Gegg-Harrison)

WRT105 - Gegg-Harrison - Library Resources for sections 105, 105A & 105E

Research isn't linear

Narrow a topic idea
You may not know right away what your research question is. Gather information on the broader topic to explore new possibilities and to help narrow your topic. Brainstorm some search terms and try likely databases to see what scholars are saying about the topic.
Ask yourself: 

  • What subtopics relate to the broader topic? 
  • What questions do these sources raise? 
  • What do you find interesting about the topic? 

Consider your audience. Who would be interested in the issue? 

From Topic to Research Question
After choosing a topic and gathering background information, add focus with a research question.
Write down a few exploratory questions

  • Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.
  • Consider the “so what” of your topic. Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?
  • Reflect on the questions you have considered. Identify one or two questions you find engaging and which
  • could be explored further through research.

Determine and evaluate your research question

  • What aspect of the more general topic you will explore? (If you're stuck, pull from current event(s), a course lecture or course readings, etc.)
  • Is your research question clear? 
  • Is your research question focused? (Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered within the length/scope of a standard college-level research project).
         â€‹Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?
         Focused: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?
  • Is your research question complex? (Questions shouldn’t have a simple or yes/no answer and should require research and analysis.)

Hypothesize
After you’ve come up with a question, consider the path your answer might take.

  • If you are making an argument, what will you say?
  • Why does your argument matter?
  • How might others challenge your argument?
  • What kind of sources will you need to support your argument?

Adapted from George Mason University Writing Center’s How to write a research question and Indian University Bloomington’s Develop A Research Question.

Reading strategies for vetting sources for close reading

Evaluating a source during close reading

Applying the CRAAP Test
Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?*  

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
  • Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Adapted from the original CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at CSU- Chico.