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FREN 1900: Paris, Real and Imagined: The City of Light in Literature, Painting, Photography and Film (Kilbane): Get Started

Course: Paris, real and imagined: The city of light in literature, painting, photography and film

Research Question

Developing Research Questions: Your Scope & Feasibility

An important aspect of determining your research question is scope. What is feasible for you to answer within your time, your access, your economic, and other constraints? Have you chosen a question that acknowledges those limitations.

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTips 

  • Many of us start with a very broad question in mind. Try these steps to narrow:
    • ​State your research interest
    • Think of a narrower scope
    • Brainstorm questions 
    • Pick the question you are most interested in
    • Rephrase the question to be narrower in scope
    • Repeat as needed


  • Paris in the 19th century
  • Paris and fashion
  • Rise of French dress designers and first fashion house
  • How did Paris become known as a capital of fashion? example question provided by Professor Kilbane.

For more information see Arriving to a Research Question and Asking Questions 

Keywords and Related terms

Keywords and related terms will emerge from your topic of research. Creating a map of your keywords and/or related terms will help you. Keywords will help you:

  • Find information
  • Limit your search
  • Filter your search

Keywords and related terms for Paris: lifestyle, esthetics, shopping, transformations, boulevards, illuminated sites, cultural center, capital of modernity, city of light, la ville lumière, festive season, Impressionism, Age of Enlightenment, café culture, fashion, art gastronomy, and intellectual and artistic life.



Boolean Operators

It is helpful knowing the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. These operators help you find information in the university's search platforms and databases.

The graphic shows how the operators AND, OR and NOT work in your search:


dog AND puppy = will retrieve titles that contain both terms in your search. 

graphic shows example with Boolean operator AND. If you look for dog AND puppy, both terms will appear in each one of the responses


dog OR puppy = will retrieve titles that contain both or either terms in your search. 

Graphic shows that if you search for dog OR puppy your results will have items with both or either term.


dog NOT puppy = will retrieve titles that only contain the term "dog." This search will exclude titles that contain the term "puppy."

Graphic shows that if your are looking for information on dogs but nor puppies, you could use the operator NOT to exclude the term puppy


Tip: Not ot all search engines use Boolean logic. For example, you do not need to use these operators in Google Scholar or when your are doing a search in Google.