Your Topic Revisited

So far you have explored your topic, identifying areas and issues that interest you, and you may have identified some books, articles and/or Web sites that appear useful. It's time now to come back to your topic and think about it some more. Specifically, you must move from a general topic question to a thesis statement.

The goal of research is for you to find evidence to support YOUR ideas about an issue or problem. Based on what you learned through your initial exploration, you will now be looking for information that will support your argument. To really defend your ideas, you must also present (and refute) existing counter-arguments.

As you proceed, you have two simultaneous tasks:

  1. Identify potentially useful items to retrieve and read
  2. Figure out how to refine your search so you get more of what you want and less of what is irrelevant

Are You Finding the Information You Need?

To make these tasks easier, consider your answers to the following:

  1. Who is the audience for your paper?
    • What type(s) of evidence will they find convincing?
    • What type(s) of evidence are they expecting?
  2. Who is likely to be creating the evidence you need?
    • Where are they likely to publish their work?
    • Will they publish in books, journal articles, Web pages?
    • Who will be the probable audience for their work?
  3. How long has this topic been under discussion? Months? Years? Decades?

The answers to these questions will influence where you look to find more information as well as how you evaluate the search results you find.

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