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National Security Fellows Program Duke/ UNC: Formulating a Research Question

Looking for a topic?

Topic Generator (Old Dominion University Libraries)
Click on a category to browse it and explore some ideas- then devise a more specific topic that can be turned into a research question.

CQ Researcher
Covers the most the most current and controversial issues of the day with complete summaries, insight into all sides of the issues, and bibliographies on the topic.  Excellent place to begin research on a topical issue.

Annual Reviews
Provides full-text review articles that summarize the current state of research on a subject by organizing, synthesizing, and critically-evaluating the relevant literature.  Most review articles provide a lengthy bibliography.

Pro & con
Individual topics on policy issues related to Civil Rights and the Judiciary, Economic and Environmental Policy, Government and Politics, and Foreign Policy, presented through the text of court decisions, statements from members of Congress or texts from experts in the field.

Issues & controversies
Explores more than 900 hot topics in business, politics, government, education, and popular culture. Includes research topic suggestions, timelines, primary source documents, statistical tables, interviews with experts, and links to news and background information.

Narrowing Down Your Topic: The 4 W's

Research Question: What is the environmental impact of the disposal of plastic water bottles?

A hit!

What is the environmental impact of plastic water bottles?

Close! What is the impact of bottled water on the environment? (What aspect of bottled water?)

How does trash pollute the environment? (too broad: What kind of trash?)

Image courtesy William H. Hannon Library (Loyola Marymount University)

Tutorial on Formulating a Research Question (3.5 min)

Formulating a Research Question

Image courtesy William H. Hannon Library (Loyola Marymount University)