Start by phrasing your subject or general topic in the form of a question.
Then ask yourself further questions about your topic:
- What do you know about it? What don't you know?
- What aspects or viewpoints of your topic interest you? Examples include social, legal, medical, ethical, biological, psychological, economic, political, and philosophical. A viewpoint allows you to focus on a single aspect.
- What time period do you want to cover?
- What place or geographic region do you want to cover? Examples include national, international, local social norms & values, economic & political systems, or languages.
- What population do you want to cover? Examples include gender, age, occupation, ethnicity, nationality, educational attainment, species, etc.
- What is the history of your topic? How did it originate? How has it changed?
- How does your topic fit into a larger system or structure?
- Next, look for resources which provide background information. Some selected general and specialized subject sources can help narrow the topic.
- Remember, there are two layers of research:
1) a broad search to discover resources and to read some background information
2) specific searches for information once you've focused your topic.