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Library DIY: From Topic to Research Question

Find how to locate a book, eBook, and articles, evaluate and cite sources, and access library services.

I need to turn my topic into a research question

Do some background reading to learn about the current research being done on your topic and the types of questions that other scholars are asking. This can give you some ideas about possible topics and angles for your research. Reference sources, like the ones listed below, can help you find an angle on your topic and identify an interesting research question. 


‚ÄčConcept Maps
Create a visual map your topic that shows different aspects of the topic (video on Concept Mapping for a Research Paper). Use a concept map creator from Owens Library or

Think about questions related to your topic. For example, when researching the local food culture, you might consider:

  • Why do people buy local?
  • What specific food items are people more likely to buy local and why?
  • What are the economic aspects of buying local? Is it cheaper?
  • Do people in all socio-economic strata have access to local food?


The Five W's: Who, What, When, Where, and Why
These kinds of questions can help you brainstorm ways to narrow your question and develop a more specific focus for your research. 


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