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Research Process

Get help with any part of the research process.

Research questions will guide your search for information about your topic.


Brainstorm by flickr user marcos c.Brainstorming can help you explore your topic and generate potential questions.

Take some time to jot down your thoughts about your topic and and questions that come to mind.

Try these online mind mapping programs to organize your thoughts!

Developing Research Questions

To begin:

  • Write down what you already know or don't know about the topic.
  • Using the information you wrote down, develop questions you'd like to answer when doing your research.
    • Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should?
    • Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.
    • Why does this topic matter to you? Why should the topic matter to others?
    • Keep your assignment in mind. A question that can be explored in 5 pages will look a little different than a question that needs 10 or 15 pages to answer.

Check out the "Develop Your Topic" worksheet and examples below.

Example: Endangered Species Act

What do or don't I know about the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?

I know it's a law that protects animals, and their habitats, that are in danger of extinction. I believe the law only protects habitats that are within the U.S. boundaries. I know at one point bald eagles and grizzly bears were on the list, but I thought they had been removed. I know there has been a lot of controversy recently about adding polar bears to the list. I don't what it takes for an animal to be removed from the list and I don't know what the penalties are for violating this act.

Research Questions

  • What was the Endangered Species Act (ESA) designed to protect -- animals only or ecosystems too?
  • What animals/habitats outside of the United States boundaries are covered by the act?
  • What other countries have legislation to protect animals/habitats?
  • What animals are currently on the endangered species list?
  • How does an animal get added/removed from the list?
  • What penalties are imposed on those who violate the act?

Image Credit

Brainstorm via Flickr user marcos c. (CC BY-NC 2.0)