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The Research Process: Step 5

An overview of the Research Process, which includes information about search strategies, how to choose and refine topics, kinds of resources, and citing sources


Download Worksheets (PDF) detailing The Research Process.  To view the file, you will need Acrobat Reader, which you can download for free from Adobe.

Focus Your Research

Now that you have a general sense of your topic, you want to develop several Research Questions. 

The answers to these Research Questions should have the potential to impact what you think about the topic, so avoid questions that will lead only to information that supports your current thinking. 

If any of your initial questions (from Step 1) were not answered using background information, you may be able to develop them into Research Questions.

Note: consider where you might find information to answer your research questions (articles, books, audio/visual materials, government publications, websites, etc.).

Research Questions - Examples

Example 1
Topic: The Ghost in Hamlet 

  • What have literary critics said about the role of the Ghost in Hamlet? 
  • What were the prevailing beliefs in Elizabethan times about ghosts? 
  • Did Shakespeare use ghosts in other plays, and, if so, how? 

(books, articles)

Example 2
Topic: Current Ideas about Autism 

  • Do we know what causes autism? 
  • How many different kinds of autism are there, and how are they different? 
  • What are current treatments for people with autism? 

(books, articles)

Example 3
Topic: Procter & Gamble's Animal Testing 

  • How has Procter & Gamble used animals to test their products? 
  • Does Procter & Gamble publish its corporate position on animal testing? 
  • How has Procter & Gamble responded to boycotts for testing products on animals?

(articles, websites)

Research Assistance

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