Getting to a question

As you think about the question you want to ask, you'll need to do a couple of things.

  • You'll need to have a look at published literature that may be related to your question.

This will give you an idea of the questions that others have been asking about your topic of interest. It will also help you identify key search terms, key journals and key individuals or research centres. This does not have to be at all thorough at this stage but just enough to give you a sense of the field in which you plan to do your research.

  • You'll need to have some sense of the material you plan to work with and its availability.

This is a critical consideration. The material with which you want to work has to be publicly available and in a format you can work with.

We will help you as you work on your question but you'll find that the more precise and the narrower you make your question, the easier it will be to use it to plan and design your research and the paper1

You may think that spending so much time on your question is unnecessary. You'd be wrong. The research question is the crucial part of any research activity. Everything flows from the question. This is the logic of doing research. You begin with the question which leads to the design and then the conduct of the research and reporting it.

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