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SOC 497: Senior Research Seminar

Research Guide for SOC 497

Strong Research Questions

A strong research question covers a well-defined and well-studied area of research. Strong research topics/questions are:

  • focused
  • clear and simple
  • manageable
  • consistent with assignment requirements
  • of interest to you

Developing a Focused Research Question

Your research project should build on a well-defined and well-studied area of research. Developing and focusing your research question will make developing your research project proposal much easier.

Do some exploratory research on your broad research idea in your course textbook, class notes, and Summon to identify more specific issues and arguments in your research area and possible relationships between them. You should also identify the methods that are used to study your research area.

Ask yourself questions about your research topic: What interests me about this topic? What have people said about it? What gaps, contradictions, or concerns arise as you learn more about it? What relationships are there between different aspects of the topic?

Write research questions that your study will answer: Use the information from your exploratory research and your answers to questions about your broad topic and the area you've decided to explore to build focused, clear, simple research question

Identify the key concepts of your research question: what concepts will you need to define and measure in a study to answer your research question? 

Identify your variables: Use your research questions and concepts to identify a few variables that interest you and the possible relationships between them. 

Choose a current topic: Pick a research topic about which articles are continuing to be published. Avoid defunct or little-known areas of research. 

Write about what interests you: Professors want students to study areas that they care about. If you're interested in the topic, it will be more fun for you to do your research, and probably more fun for your professor to read about it, too.

Ask your professor for feedback on your research question.

Picking Your Topic IS Research

Once you've picked a research topic for your paper, it isn't set in stone. It's just an idea that you will test and develop through exploratory research. This exploratory research may guide you into modifying your original idea for a research topic. Watch this video for more info:

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