Choose a subject that meets the requirements of the class and that interests you

2. Make your subject into a question that is worth researching. Although you might start with a general subject like "Who was Rosa Parks?," by the end of your research, you want to have a more probing question. This probing question may emerge as you gather your research and actually start to write. In the student model at the end of this section, rather than merely listing the events in Rosa Parks' life, the student poses the question, "Does Rosa Parks meet the criteria for a hero?" This question gives the student an interesting way to look at Rosa Parks' life and a purpose for doing the research.

3. Do some preliminary general background research to see what is available on your subject. Read through a general reference work like a general encyclopedia. Locate specific reference sources such as subject encyclopedias, bibliographic dictionaries, handbooks, almanacs or non-print resources such as pamphlets and photographs. Use the e-card catalog to find related subject headings, books and other materials. Check the indexes and tables of contents in general books about the topic. Use directories such as lii.ora, or yahoo.com to help you define your research. Use an online magazine index to locate full-text articles about the topic. Ask you librarian for assistance.

4. Make sure your question is not too broad or too narrow. Think about how long the paper is supposed to be. If you have already located many sources in your preliminary research, refocus your question on one manageable part of the subject. If you do not find enough materials on your subject, change your focus or change topics before you go any further.

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