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WRTG 103 EAPP Critical Reading, Reasoning, and Writing (Bayne)

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).
         ​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.

 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Justina Elmore, University of Rochester

Hierarchy of Journals

Reading strategies for vetting sources for close reading

Scholarship As Conversation


               

Citation Tracking: Finding articles by citation

Once you have one (or more) useful article on a topic, use the references at the end of article to find more sources on your topic using our Citation Search tool.  This helps you see what was written previous to your current article, often called citing backward.

 

Use Google Scholar to see who has cited your article after it was published.  This helps you see what has been written after your article was published, citing forward.


 


 


 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Justina Elmore, University of Rochester

Finding Grey literature & Open Web Resources - Advanced Searching Tips

The open web provides a plethora of resources for finding information about and from governmental and non-govermental organizations working to address issues surrounding your topic of research as well as grey literature.

What is grey literature?
Information published by entities whose main purpose is NOT publishing (government and non-government organizations, think tanks, scholarly societies and associations, etc​. Watch this video for more info.)

Why is grey literature important?
A large amount of public policy information is published as grey literature.

Using advance Google searching to locate grey literature

Below are a few advanced Google searching tips for find grey literatue:  

  1. Try using Google Advanced Search
  2. Include search terms like report OR analysis OR summary OR overview OR data
  3. Google ignores the word AND as a search operator. But, typing OR in all caps will find similar or related terms [e.g. "racial segregation" OR "modern segregation" OR "concentrated poverty"].
  4. Search for a particular document type [e.g. denver (hispanic OR latino) population filetype:xls].
  5. Search at particular site [e.g. site:.rochester.edu OR site:cityofrochester.gov OR site:census.gov OR pewresearch.org].
  6. Search a particular domain [e.g.  site:.gov OR  site:.org  OR site:.uk  See a full list of country code domains].
  7. Exclude words by using the "-" sign in front of the word you wish to exclude [e.g. denver (hispanic OR latino) -migrants].