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Write your Research Question
You’re ready to choose a possible research question to test search.
Remember, your research question should:
- fit the requirements of the assignment (assignment length, type of argument, source type requirements)
- Be answered with evidence from information sources (not yes/no questions)
Q: What is the negative affect of water pollution on children’s development in the United States?
Writing A Research Question (2 Min)
Identify your Question Concepts
Concepts (definition): main ideas that interact in within your research question
Library search tools work best when using concepts represented by keyword or subject terms. Before you can search you must determine your main concepts for your research question. The 4 W questions often help with this: What, Where, Why, (When)
The “W” Questions
- Who: Who are you talking about? Also, who is reading the articles you are looking at? Who is doing the research on your topic?
- Where: Where is your topic being researched? Where is your topic relevant? Are there specific places where your topic takes place or influences?
- When: When did the majority of research on your topic get published (especially important in the sciences)? Are you in a position to compare historical and contemporary information?
- Why: Why is your topic being researched? Is it an important, urgent issue? Why do you want to do research this topic?
Q: What are the negative effects of water pollution on children’s development in the United States?
- Who: children
- What: (negative) development
- Where: United States
- How: Water Pollution
- Why: government policy, regulations, public safety
Brainstorm Keywords for Searching
To search library tools you must translate your concepts into words or phrases that a computer will understand.
All concepts must be represented in the search you create. Use OR to combine similar terms for the same concept.
Q: What is the negative affect of water pollution on children’s development in the United States
Using Keywords in Databases (2 min)
Enter your Search
Use Boolean Opperators AND OR NOT to enter your search terms into the search box. Try different combinations until you find the one that works best.