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College Research

Learn the methods and tools for conducting college level research.

Ask a Research Question

After you've done some background reading, developing a research question will help you dig deeper into into your topic. A research question is really a set of questions that will guide and focus your search.

Your research questions will need to be complex and grounded.

  • Complex: not just factual; an analysis of something that engages a conversation in the news, popular culture, or scholarship
  • Grounded: based on evidence, not beliefs or morality

Complex

Research papers don't just report facts or summarize the work of others. Research papers provide an analysis of a topic.

Analysis seeks to identify and explain

  • the DIFFERENT PARTS or aspects of your topic
  • HOW and WHY the different parts of a topic work together
  • the MEANING - why it is important
  • if it is a TYPE of something - compare your topic to the main characteristics of its type or something similar

Grounded

Research is based on evidence - not opinions, beliefs, or morality. Opinions, beliefs, and morality can almost never be used to change someone's mind. Factual evidence, on the other hand, is vital for research and is one of the best ways to make decisions in every part of your life.

Go to the Reliable Sources page in this guide for more information on the different types of evidence the library has for your research paper.

The video below will help you spot the difference between fact and opinion in your research.