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Preparing for Research

Find Background Information

Identify Keywords

  • Use your readings and notes to identify relevant keywords for your topic
  • For example, keywords for the research topic "barriers to community college success" might include:
    • Poverty, funding, financial aid
    • First generation
    • Basic needs: food, housing, transportation, childcare
    • Technology

Brainstorming Research Questions

Start with your broad topic

research topic:  barriers to community college success

Brainstorm specific research questions.  What issues does this topic raise?

brainstorming subtopics:  racism, housing, what support is available, formerly incarcerated


Keep asking questions such as who?  Why?  Where?  What?

How is effected by this issue, how, in what ways?

Continue to drill down your focus

Drilling down:  poverty-->how is poverty a barrier-->survival needs: housing, food, transportation, etc>
Review your topic map.  Which questions are you most interested in?  Which are the best fit for your assignment?  Highlight keywords and phrases you can use to search for information on this topic.

Source:  UCLA Library Inquiry Labs