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European History: Initial Topic and Research Question

Research Process

Hope International University - Darling Library. (2013, October). The Research Process [Infographic]. Web. 

Searching Databases

Searching the Library Databases:

Keywords can be nouns, phrases, or names of people, places, and events.

  • Parentheses 
    • Helps visualize the order of the search (kind of like order of operations in algebra)
  • Quotation marks
    • Force the search engine to search for keywords / ideas in that exact order
  • OR
    • Link synonyms or like concepts together; expand search
  • AND
    • Links key / principal ideas together; narrows search
  • NOT‚Äč
    • Excludes words from a search; narrows search






















Image from Library of Prince George Community College 

Developing Initial Research Question

1) Your question should be interpretive, debatable, and significant (Why or How questions)

2) Your question should be narrow and specific

3) You should be able to research your question 

4) Your question will be revised as you research and read so be flexible

5) You will have seven weeks to develop a questions researched fully

Common Problems in Question Posing:

1. The Deceptively Simple Question

A question that demands a simple answer to a complex question. Ex: When did women achieve equality?

2. The Fictional Question

Ex: If Hitler had been accepted to art school, would World War II have happened?

3. The Stacked Question, or, The Embedded Assumption

Ex: Why did the Carter presidency fail?

4. The Semantic Question

A question that hinges on the definition of terms. Ex: Are all radical revolutions violent?

5. The Impossible-to-Answer Question

Ex: Was World War I inevitable?

6. The Opinion or Ethical Question

Ex: Was Truman wrong to authorize the use of the atomic bomb?

7. The Anachronistic Question

Ex: How good was ancient Athens’ record on civil rights?

From Harvard University,