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Last Updated: Sep 29, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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This guide is intended to help you research topics in a wide variety of library resources. Using the tabs at the top of the Research Guide, navigate through the tabs to locate the specific type of resources you need including reference sources, books, journals and research databases, and web resources.




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 -

Sample courtesy of SUNY-Empire State College at

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

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