When we perform research, we enter the community of scholars who, before us, sought to answer questions for themselves and others. We set out on a journey of discovery that draws us into the ongoing conversation about that subject matter. This is also your opportunity to add your voice to the scholarly work that has already been written about your topic.
As you dive into the scholarly conversation about your topic, you need to begin with a question that you are going to answer in your paper. To begin this process, you need to brainstorm some ideas that interest you. You can brainstorm with a classmate or coworker or even ask your professor for suggestions, but the question you generate is the one you will be invested in answering.
As you explore the research question you want to answer, keep in mind that your question and research should be sized to fit the assignment you have been given. Keep the scope of your research manageable. Ask a question that will lead you into your research—a specific, concrete question that will help you devise a working thesis and give you direction for your information search. Generally, the answer to your question should take a stance.
When you have tentatively decided on your research question and have a working thesis, answer these questions to test your research inquiry:
Is the scope of the question appropriate for the assignment?
Is my question specific enough so that I know what I'm looking for? Or is my question too broad or too narrow?
Can I find enough information on the subject?
When the answers to these questions are yes, you are ready to research in more depth and manage your research resources.