2.3 Background Research for an In-depth Research Project

Now that you have some background knowledge about background research (just a little research humor), we will focus on performing and applying background research to in-depth research projects, especially when you are exploring potential topics.

Start with a General Question or Topic of Interest

Most of the time, our search for information stems from the need to answer a question, satisfy our curiosity, or solve a problem. Begin your research strategy with a general idea of what it is you want to know or find out without feeling too committed to the topic. It is important to keep an open mind and to be topic flexible during the early stages of research, especially concerning a subject that you don’t know much about. Need some topic ideas? Check out these tips and suggested resources.

  • Think about what is important to you. What issues affect your everyday life? What are you curious about? What issues do you feel strongly about?
  • Browse articles from news sites online or from your social media feeds. **Disclaimer** those articles may not necessarily be appropriate sources of information, but you can get an idea of what topics or issues are currently being discussed.
  • Browse “Hot Topic” library databases for ideas about widely discussed and debated issues.

Remember! You are not settling on a position, argument, or opinion of a topic yet. The first step is only to find a starting point based on what you want to know more about.

Key Takeaway

The background research phase is all about exploration. Be open to learning about a new topic and don’t limit yourself to your initial topic (if permitted by your instructor). Allow the information you gather to direct your research and help you formulate how you will proceed with your topic.