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SPC 120: Research Tutorial

Developing Your Research Topic

As you saw in the last video, research involves first choosing a topic and then coming up with a question about the topic that requires investigation. By introducing you to many ideas related to your topic, background research enhances your understanding of your topic and can help you to come up with an interesting question related to your research topic. 

You can find background information in sources such as encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, or special reports (such as those in CQ Researcher). These source types, often called "reference" sources, will provide historical, contextual, background, and overview information. 


The Scholarly Conversation

When researchers, and this now includes you, ask questions concerning problematic and unresolved topics that intrigue them, they are entering into what is called the "scholarly conversation." As you read and learn about your topic, you are "listening" to this conversation. As you "listen," be open to new ideas, differing points of view, and feelings of uncertainty. When you give your persuasive speech, you will contribute to the conversation. Let's learn more...

Hey have you walked into a party fashionably late you show up and the conversation has already started.

What's everybody talking about?

There are two types of people in this world

  • the uniformed loudmouth who jumps in without looking at multiple points of view and just says whatever he thinks without considering the conversation that’s been going on or...
  • the person who listens first, then questions and engages research is a conversation and you are part of that conversation as a student.

But. it's important to note that this party has been going for quite awhile long before you got here.

As you begin your research, with a question or an idea in mind, you'll want to see what's being said you need to catch up on the conversation in order to participate and add something new.

These conversations are going on in

  • the humanities
  • Architecture
  • Business
  • social sciences
  • and the sciences

In a conversation, first you listen. 

When doing research, first you read by reading the work of scholars in your field.

You're listening to the conversation and getting ready to ask your own questions.

In a conversation you ask clarifying questions.

When doing research you ask questions and then see if you can find answers in previously published books and articles.

In a conversation you engage and respond with your informed point of view.

When doing research, interacting or joining the conversation might be you writing a paper, creating a poster, designing a study, making art, getting a patent, or just giving a presentation.

license link CC-BY-NC-SAThis video was created by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Libraries in July 2016. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 United States license.

Follow Up Challenge!