Get you an overview of the topic Alert you to information resources which might be available Widen your understanding of aspects of your topic which interest you most Make you familiar with specialised vocabulary and keywords Alert you to key concepts, issues controversies Help you determine your research question Reference materials are one of the best sources of background materials
Once you ’ve narrowed your research topic, you can ask a definite question. Having begun with a broad, general interest in, for instance, social problems in large cities, you might ask, "What happens to teenage runaways on the streets of London?" Or, if you started with a general interest in contemporary architecture, a definite question might be "Who in Japan today is good at designing sports arenas?" Keep in mind that the question you ask should be debatable and of interest to both you and your readers.
Translating your interest into a Research Question After gathering background information, one of the easiest ways to focus your topic is to frame it as a question. Research is not passive reporting, it is a search for answers. For instance, after doing research on censorship, you discover a current controversy involving censorship of the Internet . So, looking at your background research, you have determined that this is the area on which you wish to focus. There are a number of ways to focus this interest even further into a research question. Some questions to get you started:Who is involved? What are the political affiliations of those who are in favor of and opposed to censoring the Internet? How do public schools address Internet access and censorship? Does the government have the right to censor the Internet? Are there comparisons you can make? How does the debate concerning Internet censorship differ from the debate about book banning? Does the United States have different rules about Internet censorship than other countries? Pros / Cons Pros and Cons always reflect a potential decision to be made What are the ethical arguments for or against censoring the Internet? Should libraries censor Internet use? Should Internet filters block pornography? Your background research using specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries will give you the knowledge you need to formulate a good research question. Further modifying your topic You will continue to modify your topic throughout the research process. How you modify your topic will depend upon: Whether there is too much information Whether there is too little information Whether new issues arise during the research process that need to be addressed If you need any help with this part, always feel free to: Talk to your professor Ask a Reference Librarian for help When you have tentatively stated your question, you can hone it by asking several questions about it: Is the scope of your question appropriate — not too immense and not too narrow? Is your question answerable in the time you have? Within the word or page limits you have? Can you find sufficient timely information on your question in the library, on the Internet, or through field research? Have you worded your question simply, so that you are seeking just one answer, not several? Have you worded your question concretely and specifically, so that you understand exactly what you are looking for? Is your question of real interest? Does it concern a real issue, about which there is some debate? Does your question interest you personally? Do you honestly crave to find the answers to it? At this point, what began as a few words or ideas has developed into a more focused interest. Now, think about the questions you have about the topic, and use them to develop a focused research question. Initial words and ideas : Frank Lloyd Wright, modern architecture A preliminary research question : How has Frank Lloyd Wright influenced modern architecture? A more focused research question: What design principles used by Frank Lloyd Wright are common in contemporary homes? If you started to brainstorm with: Degas Your focused research question might be: What was the impact of New Orleans on the painting of Edgar Degas? Your thesis statement might be: Edgar Degas' visits to his uncle's plantation in Louisiana influenced his later painting. Your keywords might be: Edgar Degas, Louisiana, New Orleans, impressionist painting If you started to brainstorm with: sports and violence Your focused research question might be: Are professional athletes more violent than the average male? Your thesis statement might be: Many factors contribute to a higher than average rate of violence among professional athletes. Your keywords might be: professional athletes, sports, violence, abuse If you started to brainstorm with: Parental involvement in schools Your focused research question might be: How can parental involvement improve a child's learning? Your thesis statement might be: Parental involvement brings academic success. Your keywords might be: parents, parental, schools, involvement
The Research Source: http://www.europlat.org/cmseuroplat/docs/jpg/Psychology4a.jpg process for IB Extended Essay KEY OBJECTIVE: Present you with aTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 process and skills to manage your Extended Essay By the end of today you should feel confident to start your EE with discipline and independence.
DEFINING THE TOPICTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 Source: http://www.visualblog.de/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/norman_rockwell.gif STEP 3: Gathering background information
DEFINING THE TOPICTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 STEP 4: Identify the key concepts
DEFINING THE TOPICTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 Source: http://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2012/04/25/00/23/icon-41335_640.png STEP 5: Build a list of information sources
DEFINING THE TOPICSENIOR LIBRARY 2009-2010TTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 Source: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2927070956 STEP 6: Make your topic manageable
PROBLEMS WHICH MAKE RESEARCH QUESTIONS UNMANAGEABLE The question/ statement is too broad to be manageable.TTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 The question/ statement is too narrow The question / statement cannot be answered
NARROWING A TOPIC THAT IS TOO BROAD Give it more focus by using limiters: Time period e.g. Over the past 10 yearsTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 Geographical location e.g. Rural Thailand Population group e.g. elderly citizens Discipline e.g. economic impact Focus on a particular problem or issue
EXPANDING A TOPIC THAT IS TOO NARROW too narrow there may not be If a topic is enough information available to support your research or to find scholarly articles. Ways to expand: Local issues (coverage limited to localTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 newspapers – find issue relevant to wider geographical area) Current events (Coverage of the event may be limited to news articles – find a related event further back in time)
DEFINING THE TOPICTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 Source: http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.sg/2010/12/how-mindfulness-leads-to-enlightenment.html STEP 7: Form your initial research question
EXAMPLE: Initial idea/ topic: Frank Lloyd Wright, modern architecture Initial research question: How has Frank Lloyd Wright influencedTTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 modern architecture? Final focused question: What design principles used by Frank Lloyd Wright are common in contemporary homes?
SUPPORT MATERIAL Go to: TTS LIBGUIDES ‘Extended Essay for IB’TTS SENIOR LIBRARY 2013 http://libguides.tts.edu.sg/extendedessay Ask a Librarian in the Study Area