ENG 3010 - Intermediate Writing

Research Questions and Problems

Now find out more.

Use the following to expand your understanding about the topic you have selected. These resources include pro/con and additional resources, including links to scholarly sources.

Is my topic "researchable"?

Most topics are researchable, even if it is unusual or specialized in a discipline. Before you begin searching, consider some of these aspects of your topic--which will help you refine and narrow (or broaden) it.

1. Geographic specificity can be challenging. Instead of a specific location, such as Detroit or Michigan, try larger geographic terms, such as urban, rural, midwest, developing countries, developed nations, failed states, post-colonial, etc. or larger geographic regions such as MENA or groups like the European Union. You can interpret and apply broader research findings to your topic--that is your role as the researcher and writer.

2. Consider your population--are you looking at gender, race, age, ethnicity, immigrants, refugees? Adding a word that describes your population to your keyword search can help narrow.

3. Are you considering socioeconomic factors, such as wealth, poverty, income distribution, universal income, etc. Again, adding a socioeconomic keyword to your search can help narrow your results.

Also consider doing a broad search in a database, and using the subject headings to find sub-topics and narrow your topic.

Polling, Surveys, and Opinion Data Resources

Searching for your Literature Review

Go Big! Use Summon

Are you still trying to narrow your focus? Do you like to "see it all" before you narrow things down? Use Summon to search almost all of the library's full-text at one time, and use the filters to narrow.

Use the Summon link at the top right navigation menu of this webpage to get started.

Be Focused! Use a Disciplinary Database

Use the Research Guides or the Article Databases link to find a library database the focuses in on your topic or discipline.

Expand your search

Articles and other information sources you find will cite other sources that influenced the ideas presented. Find those articles using a search tool like Google Scholar. Make sure you use the Google Scholar link on this or any other library page so you will have access to the resources we subscribe to.

What makes a source reliable and credible?

Finding reliable and credible sources to support your ideas and observations lends authority to your report.

What do these words mean when you are selecting a source?

reliable source can demonstrate that it is consistently good in quality or performance. The peer-review process is intended to provide consistency in quality, which is why you are asked to find peer-reviewed research articles from scholarly journals. Publications or websites that have a long history of publication, a full description of who they are on their "About Us" page, can help support the reliability of a source. Authors who have credentials or training in a field or discipline, and regularly publish in recognized sources, may also be considered "reliable". If you use information from the web or popular sources like magazines, you should "google" the author's name to see if you can find this kind of information about them. Sometimes the author's name has a link that leads to more information about them.

Credible is defined by Merriam Webster as "offering reasonable grounds for being believed". Credible sources should provide reliable evidence for their assertations, and all sources should be noted or linked. Statistics, graphs, and charts should lead to the original source. Any bias or point-of-view would be explicitly stated. The source providing the information (website organization, publisher, etc.) should provide a full description of themselves. Credible articles should at the very least provide an author and date of the information, and you should always get more information about the author's reliability to help establish their credibility. Peer-reviewed publication requirements, such as providing citations for any sources used, and valid statistical analysis of any data, help establish their credibility.

This short video will help you consider the components of credibility when judging a source.