Skip to main content

EDUC 6500: Introduction to Student Affairs and Higher Education

A guide to research for EDUC 6500 Fall 2016 taught by Andy Sonn.

Tips for Picking a Topic

  • Choose a topic which interests you!  It's much easier to write a paper you are interested in. 
  • Select a topic with a moderate amount of published information.  If your topic is too broad you'll find too much information. If your topic is too narrow, you may find too little. 
  • Be flexible! Research will affect your writing and vice versa. What you find will tweak your topic or shift it in a new direction. As long as you leave enough time, that's ok!
  • Ask for help. If you can't find what you're looking for, ask your professor or a librarian for help. 

What is a research question?

Once you have selected a topic, you need to develop a research question. You may be used to working with a thesis statement, but a thesis statement is an answer. If you start your research with an answer, you might miss something important or your paper might be too one-sided. Starting with a question allows you to explore your topic while still having it clearly defined. 

A good research question is specific and focused.

Topic: Netflix

Research Question: How has the rise of streaming television changed the nature of advertising during television shows?

Topic: the environmental impact of fracking

Research Question: What are some of the most effective ways of protecting local ground water from the waste water produced by fracking?

Tip: Beware of research questions that are too broad or too narrow.

Too Broad: Why is reality television so popular?

Too Narrow: What are the economic and social consequences of the popularity of Jersey Shore on the lives of teenagers living in Omaha, Nebraska? 

Tip: be willing to tweak your research question as you go.

Research Question: How has the rise of streaming television changed the nature of advertising during television shows?

Potential Research Finding: Advertising during television hasn't changed much recently.

New Research Question: Why has advertising on television been able to remain the same when how we watch television has changed so much?

 

A Research Topic Can Be Anything

GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC 20052202.994.6558refdesk@gwu.edu