The most important part of the research process is to develop a research question. Often, we start with a general idea, but general ideas are too broad to research. Use reference sources like the ones listed on this page to help you narrow down your focus. You may begin with a tentative thesis in mind, but reading secondary sources should help you refine this thesis and shape your paper.
Here are some guidelines to consider when selecting, developing and refining a topic.
Reference books, primarily general and specialized encyclopedias, are the ideal starting point for doing research. Reference sources provide you with the necessary background information to give you a fundamental understanding of a topic. They can also help you refine or focus a topic and acquaint you with the appropriate terminology. At Kirk Library we collect subject-specific encyclopedias, so you can get background information on topics across nearly all fields of study. These and other reference books must be used in the library. Some important reference books include: