Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Developing a Research Proposal is a process that involves conducting preliminary research into sources before writing a proposal or thesis statement. Let's call it "presearch"
Research as Inquiry - We don't start with an answer; we start with a question.
Your goal is to identify a topic that is Viable and Manageable.
Viable - there exists published scholarly sources addressing your topic or a closely related topic.
Manageable - there is not an overwhelming number of articles or books on the topic covering a wide variety of sub-topics.
In other words - not too big, not too small, just right. But, you have to start somewhere and many researchers get a kind of writer's block trying to come up with words to start their research. So...
Start Big, Start Small - Just Start!
As you conduct research and review your results, you will discover themes and issues that are of interest to you, that inspire you.
Narrow or Broaden - Use the results, the lists of articles and other sources, to help you narrow or broaden your topic, as necessary.
You will find concepts and terms, subject headings and keywords, to help adjust your search process to make your research more targeted and relevant.
Context - you don't need to find an exact match to your topic proposal, but you do need to find information about the issues that impact your topic.
Break down the individual components of your question or thesis and search for information about each issue and identify the resources that best help you understand the issues and support your proposal.
Other Library Guides for Graduate Students:
Research Tips for Graduate Students: The Research Process Rutgers University
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