Help with Research

Ask Us: Quick Answers about the research process








Help With Library Research

Center for Popular Music Reading Room

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How do I develop a good research question?

After you have decided on your topic, you can begin to shape this topic into a question. Write down your topic and answer as many of the following questions as possible:

  • Who is the research about (i. e. college students, musicians, moms, faculty etc.)?
  • What is the research about (i. e. music, farms, math, shapes etc.)?
  • When (i.e. what time period are you research? Civil rights? Labor? Vietnam? 1945? etc.)?
  • Where (i. e. United States, Canada, Mexico, Africa, Europe, etc.)?
  • Why (i. e. why are you spending time looking at this resource, outside of just the requirement of the assignment)?

Learn More

Learn about how to create a Concept Map from Belk Library, Appalachian State University.

How do I start searching for information?

Start by reviewing your assignment and developing your research question, once these are done it is time to start gathering information.

As you review resources your research question may change a bit, but that is perfectly normal as your views change based on what you learn. It is a good thing to learn and adapt your research, this is all part of the process.

  1. You need to learn more about your topic, start by collecting background information. Go to the library catalog search page, and enter keywords that relate to your topic to find both Walker library materials and materials located at the Center. Also, search the libraries journals and databases, and make sure to utilize Google by entering your keywords and locating trust worthy resources (Google Scholar may be useful for locating peer reviewed articles as well).
      1. How to search the James E. Walker Library (JEWL)
  2. Make sure that as you locate articles and information you document where you got them from and take notes. This will help you to create a works cited page at the end of your research, and help you to start putting together the relevant information that you have found.
      1. Citing your sources using the Walker Library CITE button
  3. Now that you have looked for background information and gathered resources, scan through all of your information and see if you need to update your research question, and pull out any new keywords that you have found and start using those to search for more information until you have gathered the required amount of sources for your assignment.

How do I come up with the right keywords?

Keywords are the words that you use to search for information about your research topic. You can create a general list by writing down your research question and then circling or writing down the keywords or ideas in your question. The keywords below are in bold and an example keywords list is also provided:

Are female musicians underrepresented on country music radio stations?

  • Female
  • Women
  • Musicians
  • Underrepresented
  • Lower demographic
  • Country
  • Country Music
  • Radio
  • Radio Stations

Learn more

For practice, watch this tutorial and follow along with your research question: Creating a search strategy

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