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Political Science: What is Research?

An Open-Ended Thoughtful Question Drives Good Research

Good research explores a question without an easy answer.  Narrowing a topic to a primary question will get your research off to the right start.
 
Questions require answers. 
 
A topic is too broad to cover thoroughly, but a question has an answer.
 
TOPIC QUESTION
The Influence of Drugs on Crime Could legalization of less harmful drugs like marijuana reduce crime in the U.S.?
Abortion Are laws requiring waiting, counseling or sonograms effective in reducing abortions?
Sports Injuries  Why do heat exhaustion deaths occur and how can they best be avoided? 
Working Women In what fields have women achieved the greatest equality and through what means?
  
 
A question is a way of evaluating the evidence.   
 
A clearly stated question helps you decide what information is needed in your paper and what is not relevant.
  
An open-ended question calls for real research and thinking.
 
A question with no easy answer makes research and writing more meaningful to both you and your audience. Your research may then solve a problem or contribute to the field of knowledge.
 

Examples of Keyword and Subject Searches

Click Here for examples of keyword and subject searches for the following research questions:
 
What effect does divorce have on children?
What effect does birth order have on academic achievement?
Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?

Keyword Searching

Forming a Research Question

Online Database Helps

Off Campus Library Services provides detailed help with using the Online Library at the Database Tutorials page.

The following links provide step by step instructions for:

Accounting Students

Business Students

Criminal Justice Students

Education: Undergraduate and Graduate Students

International Relations: Cybersecurity and Cyberterrorism Students

IT/Technology Students

Ministry: Undergraduate and Graduate Students (Graduate Resources - scroll to the bottom for Bible, Ministry, and Religion Videos)

Nursing Students

Other Research Helps

APA Paper Template (Microsoft Word document)

APA Style Blog from the American Psychological Association, the inventors of APA format

APA Video Tutorials from the Off Campus Library Services staff

Annotated Bibliography Example from OCLS (PDF document)

Creating an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word (Video)

Writing a Literature Review (PDF document)

Save Yourself Time. Schedule a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian!

Make a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian.  
Options include In Person (Face to Face), Phone, and Video Call Interviews.
For more information, call Off Campus Library Services at 1-800-521-1848

The Research Paper Process: Step by Step

1. Develop your Research Question.  You may want to think about:

What research is and what research is not and the kind of research paper you will write.
Ways you can choose a topic for your research paper.
Your paper's audience: Who you are writing to and why you are writing to them.
Whether or not you understand the assignment.

2. Decide what type of information you will use in your research.  

Will you need print or e-books?
Academic Journal articles?
Magazine or Newspaper articles?
Web sites or other multimedia?

3. Determine the kinds information you will need.  

Are you looking for current or past (historical) information?  
Will you need Primary Sources or Secondary Sources?  
Should you use Popular, Trade, or Scholarly Journals?
How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy, audience, bias, or purpose? 

4. Start the process of writing your paper. 

Pre-Writing: Get your paper off to a good start.
Think about the entire Writing Process.
Write your Thesis Statement.
Develop an Outline.
Start your First Draft.
Proofread your First Draft.
Revise your Draft using the Revising Process.
Proofread and Revise again.

5. Avoid Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism by citing and referencing the sources you use.  

Indiana Wesleyan University uses APA Style, a set of writing and citation rules developed by the American Psychological Association for all of its academic programs.  

The OCLS APA 6e Guide includes helpful information, example citations and references, and step-by-step directions for working with APA format.  

APA Style CENTRAL is an online learning and paper writing system that will help you create your own APA Style Papers with the correct format.  Type information about your paper and sources and Style CENTRAL automatically formats title pages, References lists, in-text citations, margins, etc.  When papers are finished, Style CENTRAL re-creates them as Microsoft Word documents.