Home Evaluation Help
 
Information
Topics
Searching
Locating
Evaluating
Sharing
RML Catalog

Module 2: Identifying a Topic

 
Print this page Print Module 2
< Back | Next >
 

2.2 Using a Topic to Generate Questions

Research requires a question for which no ready answer is available. What do you want to know about a topic? Asking a topic as a question (or series of related questions) has several advantages:

  1. Questions require answers.
    A topic is hard to cover completely because it typically encompasses too many related issues; but a question has an answer, even if it is ambiguous or controversial.
     
    TOPIC   QUESTION
    Drugs and Crime   Could liberalization of drug laws reduce crime in the U.S.?

  2. Questions give you a way of evaluating answers.
    A clearly stated question helps you decide which information will be useful. A broad topic may tempt you to stash away information that may be helpful, but you're not sure how. A question also makes it easier to know when you have enough information to stop your research.

  3. A clear open-ended question calls for real research and thinking.
    Asking a question with no direct answer makes research and writing more meaningful. Assuming that your research may solve significant problems or expand the knowledge base of a discipline involves you in more meaningful activity of community and scholarship.

Developing a Question

Developing a question from a broad topic can be done in many ways. Two such effective ways are brainstorming and concept mapping.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a free-association technique of spontaneously listing all words, concepts, ideas, questions, and knowledge about a topic. After making a lengthy list, sort the ideas into categories. This allows you to inventory your current awareness of a topic, decide what perspectives are most interesting and/or relevant, and decide in which direction to steer your research.

Concept Mapping

You may create a concept map as a means of brainstorming; or, following your brainstorm, you may take the content you have generated and create your map from it . Concept maps may be elaborate or simple and are designed to help you organize your thinking about a topic, recognize where you have gaps in your knowledge, and help to generate specific questions that may guide your research.

Combining brainstorming and concept mapping (brainmapping, if you will) can be a productive way to begin your thinking about a topic area. Try to establish as your goal the drafting of a topic definition statement which outlines the area you will be researching and about which you will present your findings.

 
Module 2
2.0 Objectives
2.1 Definition of Research
2.2 Using a Topic
2.3 Broadening Your Research
2.4 Narrowing the Topic
2.5 Choosing Keywords
2.6 Self-Quiz
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
    < Back | Next >  


Modules: 1 Information | 2 Topics | 3 Searching | 4 Locating | 5 Evaluating | 6 Sharing | 7 RML Catalog

© All rights reserved.
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua Theological Research Center
at the Ryan Memorial Library

Information Literacy Portal
Credits