Skip to main content

First Year Experience: Research Planning

Develop a research plan

Develop your research topic.

What are the key concepts of your topic?  Can you broaden or narrow your focus? Consider focusing on one or more of the following:

  • time period
  • place
  • specific event   
  • specific people

Does your topic overlap other subject areas such as anthropology, geography or political science?

Think of 2- 3 questions that you will need to explore.

  • Think about the history of your topic, and its categories.
  • Who are the key people? What did they do? Why did it happen?

Under each question, think about the following aspects:

  • What do you already know about your topic or issue?
  • What do you need to learn to better understand your topic or issue?
  • What kind of information resource might provide the answer to these questions?

Consider your audience.

  • Who will read your paper?
  • Why will it be of interest to them?
  • What will be new to them?

Developing a Research Question

Choose a Question that is Neither Too Broad or Too Narrow

For example, if you choose juvenile delinquency (a topic that can be researched), you might ask the following questions:

  • What is the 1994 rate of juvenile delinquency in the U.S.?
  • What can we do to reduce juvenile delinquency in the U.S.?
  • Does education play a role in reducing juvenile delinquents' return to crime?

More sample questions - http://www.esc.edu/online-writing-center/exercise-room/research-question-broad-or-narrow/

Sample courtesy of SUNY-Empire State College at http://www.esc.edu/online-writing-center/resources/research/research-paper-steps/developing-questions/

Mondor-Eagen Library | Anna Maria College
Anna Maria College, 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton, Massachusetts 01612