Chabot College
 ·   ·   · 
Developing A Research Strategy on Your Topic Notepad on top of a computer

Define basic concepts and terminology

We call this "contextualization". If you aren't already familiar with the questions that scholars ask,
we recommend that you memorize them as a standard part of your research strategy. These questions are:

Who? When? What? Where? How? And finally, the most important, Why?

Familiarize yourself with concepts related to the topic: What?

Use keywords related to the topic as search terms when using the Online Catalog for books and/or,
as keys to magazine & journal articles in "Online Databases". Or coming Dictionary Of Concepts In Scholarship

Identify major personalities: Who?

Use biographical sources to collect background information on key people associated with your topic.
Or, in the subject keyword of the Online Catalog and/or the equivalent in other Libraries, try your person's name
as subject for any biographies published as books. Biographies, as articles in journals, are available in Library of Congress Biographies
Making of America
, Academic Info and many other Online Databases

Summarize historical background:

When? What? Where? How? Why?

Develop a historical perspective

`````````what role does social context & societal influences have, past & present, on your topic?

Determine whether your topic is a new area of investigation

```````` or is it one which resurfaces with new implications?

Discover the major issues & discussion surrounding your topic by

using Bibliographies, (either those bibliographies provided in articles in discipline-specific encyclopedias or handbooks, or by individual bibliographies relating to a specific topic), or Reviews of Research - which provide assessments of the current research in a field.

Background knowledge about a topic is frequently available as articles in online journals available in EBSCOHOST, Lexis Nexis, Making of America,
American Memory,
and many other online databases.

Survey a discipline’s approach to a topic:

Evaluate current developments: for example, a topic such as "welfare" " or "public assistance " will be treated in a different contexts within the sociological , psychological, political science and/or legislative or journalistic communities, or perhaps as it relates to its impact on education.Collecting information from each of these areas of research will provide a broader base for development of the evidence  you use to support your arguments. Identify current trends, arguments for or against an issue. To discover the major issues & discussion surrounding your topic, use Bibliographies, (either those bibliographies provided in articles in discipline-specific encyclopedias  or handbooks, relating to a specific topic).
If you need additional information: Ask at the Reference desk for sources providing current affairs, news sources, and other specialized sources (e.g., Editorials on File) to provide further background material.

kim l. morrison