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Political Science

Choosing a research question

Absentee ballot

Lindsey Bieda. (2008, Oct. 14). Voting, Bitches! Retrieved from https://flickr.com/photos/mutednarayan/2942457830. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Deciding on a topic can be one of the toughest parts of writing a paper. The resources on this page can help start this process.

Ask Yourself .... 

Ask yourself the following questions about your topic to make sure you've picked a topic that will keep both yourself and your audience (those reading your paper) engaged. If you can answer yes to all the questions, you're ready to start gathering sources.

  • Am I interested in the topic?
  • Will I enjoy researching this topic?
  • Will I enjoy talking about this topic and sharing my information with my readers?
  • Will my readers be interested in my topic?

Adapted from the University of Hawaii.

Defining a topic and crafting a research question

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Deciding on a topic is one of the simplest, yet can be one of the toughest, parts of conducting research. The resources in this tutorial can help you brainstorm different topic ideas, and consider their appeal both to yourself and to your audience.  From here, they can help you refine your topic into a research question.  In short,

A research topic is a subject that interests you. A research question is something specific you want to know about your topic.

A research question is what you ultimately want to develop.

Image: Jim Surkamp. (2014, Mar. 14). Researcher. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimsurkamp/13146978405. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Refining a topic into a research question

research questions video link

Reference Databases

These Reference databases can help if you need to find some facts or background information on your topic.

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