Human Services Research Basics
Research as Exploration
What Are You Trying to Figure Out?
Research works best when it's tackled with the true spirit of inquiry. What are you ultimately trying to figure out about your topic? Are you trying to gain an overview of of a brand new topic or understand something familiar with greater depth and clarity? Are you trying to develop a new idea or find the best arguments for or against an existing idea? Are you trying to find a solution to a problem? Approaching research through the lens of inquiry is a great way to keep you motivated.
You aren't just looking for information, you're looking for ANSWERS!
Define Your Focus
Once you identify a strong topic you need to find a manageable focus for your work. Focusing involves clearly defining the specific aspect of the topic you'll explore. Think of formulating a guiding research question that captures the main idea of your research.
Things to consider when focusing:
• How long is the finished product supposed to be? What can you reasonably cover in that amount?
• What is your task? Are you arguing? Comparing and contrasting? Writing a cause and effect paper? Solving a problem?
Methods to Help You Focus
• Go back to “why” you chose your topic. What made you choose your topic in the first place? Sometimes articulating the “why” out loud will directly reveal the direction you want to go with your topic.
• Do some preliminary reading. Take a few minutes to run your topic through the library catalog and the library databases. Note how others are exploring your topic. What “grabs” you? What doesn’t?
• Talk to others about your topic. Check in not only with your professors and librarians, but talk to your friends, family and classmates about your topic. Having your topic reflected by someone else can often spark great ideas, and any chance to articulate your topic “out loud” is beneficial.
This is taken from Modesta Community College-Research Guides—Human Services Research Basics.