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World History: Starting Your Research

What is Research?

A research paper uses data/information from various sources to answer a question.  It is not just an explanation of or report about a topic.

A good research paper begins with a good question.  You should choose a narrow aspect of the topic which you can explore in depth.  You start with a question, collect data or information, synthesize the data/information, analyze the data/information in light of the question, and then make your conclusions about the question.

A thesis statement is a hypothesis of the answer to your research question.  Since you haven't collected all the data/information yet, it is only a proposal of what your conclusion may be.  You will need to demonstrate whether this proposal is correct. Remember, though, to look at all sides of the question.  Don't just select information that proves your hypthesis is correct!

Steps of the Research Process

Step 1. Get an overview of your subject.  Use reference sources (print or online)  to get background information.

Step 2. Define and refine your topic.

Step 3. Identify key terms, synonyms, concepts and search terms.

racism--> racism, bias, discrimination, prejudice, etc.
death penalty--> death penalty, capital punishment, death row, etc.
convictions--> convictions, sentencing, appeal, judge, jury, etc.

Step 4. Find resources. 

Find Books and Articles using the d'Alzon Library Search Bar

Step 5. Request books and journal articles that we don't own through InterLibrary Loan or visit other libraries in the Worcester area (ARC).

Step 6. Evaluate your information, including the number and kinds of sources. 

Remember to identify whether a journal is scholarly or popular.

Step 7. Cite your sources properly, and always avoid plagiarism! 

See the Writing & Citing guide or our Research Process guide for help!

How to write a strong (hypo)thesis

Scribbr (November 15, 2019)

Finding Background Information AU