Defining Your Research Topic and Starting Your Search
Lesson 3

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red bulletIntroduction
red bulletDeveloping a Thesis
red bulletStrong Questions Are Powerful
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red bulletDetermining a Search Strategy
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From Thesis to Search Strategy

One difference between a novice researcher and an experienced researcher is in the amount of time spent in defining the topic and formulating a strong, precise thesis statement. Efficient, effective researchers take the necessary time to think about what it is they are trying to find. Experienced researchers define which questions need to be explored and answered. Experienced researchers put their questions into terms that work within the structures of the library and its online information systems.

Any time spent defining your research topic and thesis statement is time saved. In order to locate pertinent sources you must clearly understand the questions you are trying to answer, what you are looking for, and how your topic fits into other areas of knowledge and research.

David Novak makes a very good point in "The Information Research FAQ: 100 Pages of Search Techniques, Tactics and Theory," when he states:

The information sphere is very, very large. We must be very careful about each question we ask. This issue is vital once we start a search, and can easily mean the difference between five on-target articles, and hundreds of irrelevant citations. The essence of our question is the manner with which we approach the information sphere. The question directs our efforts.

One key is to treat searching as an art, much like painting or photography. The true mark of an artist, and the primary step wanna-be artists miss, is visualizing what you want before you begin.

The following sections of the Tutorial will provide you with ideas on how to begin the research process.

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