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Research Guide for INFSCI 2205

This guide is designed to support the students in INFSCI 2205.

Introduction

When you begin a research project, you are doing more than just reiterating what you find in other sources. The research process requires that you are able to:

  • consider questions or problems in your field that are unresolved as a focus for your project
  • articulate the question or problem you will explore
  • find relevant arguments in sources that inform or challenge your perspectives
  • analyze and evaluate those sources
  • through engagement with sources, create something new to add to the conversation regarding the initial problem or question

Some considerations when thinking about your research question:

  • You are not looking for sources that provide the answer to your question, instead the answer is something you will create as part of this process.
  • Not every topic has been researched and/or published in the literature.
  • Be flexible. Consider broadening or narrowing the topic if you are getting a very small number or an overwhelmingly large number of results when you search the library databases.  
  • Discuss your topic with your instructor and be willing to alter your topic according to the guidance you receive.

[inspiration: Bean, J. C. (2011). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

Unpacking Your Research Question

When you are first investigating a topic, it is helpful to ask questions about it in order to focus in on what it is you are really interested in learning, reading, and writing about. For example, consider the following:

  • Audience - who is involved in the problem or issue?
  • Impact - what is the potential impact or results of the problem?
  • Indicators - what will be happening to let you know the problem is increasing, decreasing?
  • Comparisons - are there other issues similar to this one that can inform your perspective?

Topic Brainstorming

A bubble chart, mind map, or concept map can help you brainstorm different ways that your topic can be narrowed or broadened. Using one of these simple tools to visualize your search can help you see connections that you did not know were there previously.