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LIS2004 Research Strategies for College Students | Prof. Machado Dillon

This guide contains resources for students of Prof. Machado Dillon's LIS2004 course.
Introduction

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the purpose of selecting a research topic is to learn new information, solve problems, answer questions, and/or generate new ideas
  • Explore and organize concepts related to a research topic
  • Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope for the assignment
  • Generate keywords and synonyms based on a research question

Information Literacy Competencies

You will apply and learn about information literacy competencies while completing this learning module.

  • The primary competency related to this module is Searching as Strategic Exploration
  • The primary knowledge practice is to determine the initial scope of the task required to meet [your] information needs

Introduction

Whether you are searching for traditional print library resources or using electronic, online resources, the development of a search strategy is essential.  A search strategy is simply a plan for conducting your information search.

This is the general overview of an effective search strategy:

  • Start with a general topic
  • List all the concepts and themes related to the topic using a concept map
  • Focus the topic so that it is appropriate for the assignment – you may need to narrow or broaden your topic
  • Develop a guiding research question
  • Create and refine keywords and synonyms based on your research question

Online search tools and resources appear and disappear daily, but the strategies and processes of searching for information remain constant.

While this module focuses on developing search strategies for the open online environment (such as websites found via Google or Bing), you will find that these same strategies are transferable to other research tools, such as subscription library databases, which we will explore in greater detail in Module 5.

Selecting a Research Topic

Before attempting to search for open online resources, you should have a clear idea of your topic and the kinds of information you will need.

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Not sure where to begin? To identify a research topic, try:

  • Suggested topics from instructors, texts, or readings

  • Your own business or personal interest area

  • Browsing the following websites and your library’s subscription databases. The websites are geared toward college students so they’ll be especially helpful for your assignment.

Internet Websites

College Library Databases

Hot Topics (Missouri State University B.D. Owens Library)

ProCon.org

597 Good Research Paper Topics

MDC Learning Resources:

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

SIRS Researcher

CQ Researcher Plus Archive

 

To Log On:

Username = MDC student or employee number

PIN = last 4 digits of MDC student or employee number

Focus Your Topic

When writing a paper, you should focus on narrowing your topic as much as possible. A concept map can help you organize concepts central to your research topic.

Main Topic with corresponding Key Concepts Main Topic: Childhood Obesity, Key Concepts: Parent Responsibility, Issue in Adulthood, Holistic Approach, Diet and Exercise, Medical Treatment, School Responsibility
Stating Your Topic as a Research Question

Developing a Research Question

How to develop and narrow a topic by creating a research question.

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Developing a Research Question

What is a research question and how to choose a topic?

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Narrow Your Topic

Tutorial

Narrow Your Topic Tutorial


To state your topic as a Research Question

  1. Start with your topic: e.g. Childhood Obesity

  2. List all the concepts and themes related to the topic using a concept map.

  3. Generate a research question using an idea from your concept map, e.g., Is it the school’s responsibility to provide a nutritious lunch to school children? (Topic example from SIRS Knowledge Source)

Creating a Research Question and Identifying Keywords
  1. Start with your research question: Is it the school’s responsibility to provide a nutritious lunch to school children?

  2. Identify the keywords or main concepts from your research question: responsibility, nutritious, lunch, school children

  3. Think of synonyms or alternate words to use as keywords, for example: healthy could be a synonym for nutritious.

Review

In this module, you have learned how to:

  1. Recognize the purpose of selecting a research topic is to learn new information, solve problems, answer questions, and/or generate new ideas

  2. Explore and organize concepts related to a research topic

  3. Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope for the assignment

  4. Generate keywords and synonyms based on a research question