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Understand the assignment
What does your research require?
- A description and or definition of the topic?
- A history of the growth or development of the subject matter?
- Analysis of issues related to the topic?
- Taking a stand on an issue and providing persuasive arguments?
- Statistics, case studies, photos, biographical information?
- When is it due?
What types of resources must you use?
- Books, including encyclopedias
- Journals vs. magazine articles
- Internet websites
How are you supposed to cite your sources of information?
- MLA, APA, other citation style?
Sources for Background Reading
Have an idea for a topic and need more information about it? Try searching it in Gale eBooks (Gale Virtual Reference Library), an online database for subject encyclopedias and reference books that can give you background information and topic overviews.
Don't have an idea for a topic? Explore our list of potential Research Paper Topics.
Identify keywords and concepts
Keywords and concepts describe the main idea(s) of your topic and enable you to focus your research.
- Based on your assigned texts, jot down the terms that you identify as the keywords and main concepts.
- Use background information from reference sources such as the Gale eBooks (Gale Virtual Reference Library) to find additional keywords and synonyms.
- Group the keywords by concept.
- Identify synonyms of your keywords (e.g., synonyms for "teenagers" are adolescents, youths, and children).
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