Presentation on theme: "The Research Process From Topic to Question. Why research? The best research comes from a need to know. The best research has as its purpose enhanced."— Presentation transcript:
The Research Process From Topic to Question
Why research? The best research comes from a need to know. The best research has as its purpose enhanced understanding. The best research begins with a careful, detailed process of developing a valid, researchable question that YOU need to answer.
Topic A topic is a general subject or area that you may want to investigate. A topic is phrased as a word (e.g. white lies) or, better, as a sentence fragment (e.g. gender and the practice of telling white lies). Write your general topic as a sentence fragment: ____________________ _. Topic as words: –White lies –Stories of the Alamo –Free will and historical determinism Topic as fragment: ogender and the telling of white lies oStories of the Alamo from the US and Mexico oFree will and determinism in Tolstoy
Where do you get a topic? Read newspapers Read magazines Write down your interests and hobbies Talk to friends Watch public television, movies, ads. Think critically about what you see always asking why? Hint : For the next two days, keep a record of the why questions you have about everyday occurances, issues in the news, gossip heard at lunch. Potential research topics are all around you.
From a broad topic to a narrow one After you have chosen a subject that interests you, you will need to narrow your focus. Your topic is too broad if you can state it in four or five words. Add modifying words or phrases to your broad topic to make it narrower. Example: –From: white lies –To: The effect of gender on the nature of lies told in romantic relationships. Example: –From: free will –To: The conflict between free will and historical inevitability in Tolstoys War and Peace.
Getting specific Beginning researchers: –Have a topic –Gather information about the topic –Present the information in a coherent, organized paper. Thesis examples: 1.Studies show that men and women tell white lies for different reasons in different situations. 2.There are differences between American Stories of the Alamo and Mexican stories about the Alamo.
Getting specific Intermediate researchers: –Have a topic that poses a researchable question –Gather information about that topic –Present the information in a coherent form that answers the proposed research question. Sample questions: -Why do men and women exhibit different physical characteristics in the telling of a lie? - How do three key battle scenes in Tolstoys War and Peace articulate the conflict between free will and historical determinism?
From narrowed topic to question To get from a narrowed topic to a researchable question, engage in a process known as questioning your topic. During this process ask yourself four categories of questions about your topic. 1.What are the parts of your topic? 2.What larger history is your topic part of? 3.What are the categories of your topic? 4.What is the importance of your topic?
From narrowed topic to a question: 1. What are the parts? Question your topic in a way that analyzes its components and the relationships between them. –What are the parts of a lie? –What are the parts of a white lie? –What are the parts of body language? –What kinds of body language occur during which kinds of lies?
From narrowed topic to a question: What history is your topic a part of? Question your topic in a way that treats it as a dynamic entity that changes throughout time. –Has the body language associated with lying changed as a result of the feminist movement? –What are early literary examples of lying? –How was lying (esp. the white lie) understood by philosophers? Theologians? How is it understood today? –Has anyone ever quantified the nature of the changes?
From narrowed topic to a question: What are the categories of your topic? Question your topic in a way that defines its range of variation, how instances of it are alike and different from one another. –Are some white lies more damaging than others? –What kinds of white lies exist? –What branch of philosophy or theology deals with lying? –What are the most typical kinds of white lies?
From narrowed topic to a question: What is the importance of your topic? Question your topic in regard to the value of its uses. –How have white lies helped people? How have white lies harmed people? What is the social/psychological use of lying? What are the political uses of lying?
Review and Arrange Answers Write at least one page of questions. Read over your questions. Separate into groups of who, what, where questions and groups of how and why questions. Consider the how and why questions. Which ones spark your interest? Cause you pause? This questions is your narrowed research question.
Review and Arrange Answers Who What Where Who, what, where questions will shape your intiail research. You need to have the answers to some or most of these questions in order to deepen understanding. –What kinds of white lies exist? –Are some white lies more prevalent than others? –What are the most typical kinds of white lies? How Why How and why questions are potential research questions. Circle those questions that resonate most strongly with you. –How was lying (esp. the white lie) understood by philosophers? Theologians? How is it understood today by feminist scholars? –How have white lies helped people? –How have white lies harmed people?
From Question to Significance Once you have a question that youd like to answer, the next step is to add the crucial so what? This is called motivating the question. Even skilled researchers often cannot answer this question until they are into the research process, but it doesnt hurt to formulate the so what part of the research now.
Three steps to refining the question Step one 1. Name your topic: I am studying the role of gender difference in the telling of white lies. Fill in the blank with a phrase: I am studying _______________________. Hint: Tell people about your project At this stage of your research it pays to articulate the object of your study as clearly and to as many people as possible. The more often you say it to yourself and others, the more opportunities you will have to clarify and refine your statement. Not only that, but they might have the perfect source for you.
Three steps to refining the question Step two 2. Suggest your motivation –I am studying the role of gender in the telling of white lies because I want to know whether and how gender difference impacts the social purposes of the white lie. Adding a because to your statement gets the motivation into your statement. It helps you remember and articulate exactly what you want to achieve through your research.
Three steps to refining your question Step three 3. Place your research in a larger context of understanding. a. I am studying the role of gender differences in the telling of white lies b. because I want to know whether and how gender impacts the social purpose of the white lie c. in order to understand more about the relative ethics of our culture.
The third step Step three is the hardest part. Many times, professional researchers fail to answer this critical question. You may not KNOW the answer until well into the research process. Trying to answer it now may give you some guidance for future research decisions. Be patient. Return to this step often to see whether you are closer to understanding your purpose.
Suddenly your topic is everywhere Have you ever had the experience of never noticing the number of green Mini Coopers on the road until you decide that you want a green Mini Cooper? This is the purpose of your next research step. Notice your topic. Find the following: –A magazine that has an article/articles about your topic –A film about your topic –News articles about your topic –People who have information about your topic