Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research at CSU-Pueblo

Research Topics and Questions

Research Topics

Most students begin a research assignment by picking a topic they are interested in. Your topic can usually be described in just a few words, like "the socioeconomic impacts of cannabis legalization" or "restorative justice for juvenile delinquents." Your topic is probably broad, with an large amount of information already available. Your assignment is not to synthesize all of the research ever conducted on this topic, so you will need to narrow your topic considerably, and then consider how best to frame your research question.

Research Questions

Research questions are the core of your research. The nature of your research question will determine what information sources you use, the terms that you use to search, the timeliness and relevancy of your research, and its potential impact. Jumping into a research assignment without finalizing your research question will lead to wasted time and frustration.

Research questions are considerably longer than just a few words, because they are specific. Research questions cannot be answered by a quick Google search, and their answer is not found in a single source like a Wikipedia page. Research questions ask about relationships, and research papers draw connections between sources to offer an interpretation or persuasive argument. Good research questions usually start with "How" or "Why," not "What" or "Should."

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