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Strategy: Get Started

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Strategy: Get started

Research inquiry is like an exploration -- it helps us learn, understand, and contribute to our worlds.  Because the experience often includes unexpected twists and turns, try to remain open, curious, and persistent. Let’s get started. To begin your critical inquiry, you will identify an issue, a topic, and  a set of questions about which you are curious.

Step OneChoose Your Topic of Inquiry

Inquiry is a process of posing questions, seeking perspectives, and building knowledge. The first step is to identify a topic or issue that matters to you. You may start with a very broad and open area of interest. 

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTips for inspiration:

  • Review textbooks from your favorite classes
  • Scan newspapers and magazines
  • Browse online media
  • Browse background sources 

Impact of social media on our lives


Step TwoEstablish Your Topic Knowledge  

Brainstorm key aspects of your topic: who, what, where, when, why, how.

List what you already know about your topic.

List what you need to know about your topic. 

  • What does [key concept related to my topic] mean?  
  • What are the facts about  [my topic]?
  • What are the various features of  [my topic]?  
  • What are the component parts of  [my topic]?  
  • What are the types of  [my topic]?
  • What is the present status of  [my topic]?
  • What are the causes of  [my topic]?  
  • What are the consequences of  [my topic]? 
  • How is  [my topic] like or unlike [related concept]?  
  • How is  [my topic] made or done?  
  • How did  [my topic] happen?
  • When and where did  [my topic] happen?
  • Who cares about [my topic]?
  • Why does [my topic] matter now?

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTip: Try mind mapping or other brainstorming strategies.




View sample mindmap


Step OneDo Some Background Research & Reading  

Read encyclopedic or overview sources to better understand the topic

Note key terms, key events, key people, key places

Identify subtopics or related topics

Mountain Top By Alice Noir for the Noun ProjectTip: Look for cues and leads as your read. Asks questions as your read. 



Check out this background source. Click on the highlighted text to view annotations and tips.

   Read & look for cues, leads, and new questions.  

After reading, you may find a more focused research interest. 

  • How does social media impact young voters political participation and civic engagement?
  • What psychological indicators influence teen's use of alternate identities online? 
  • How does social media impact friendships and romantic relationships?

Try searching: "your topic keyword" AND encyclop*
   You may also try searching dictionary, handbook, or guide.

 Mountains by Alice Noir from the Noun Project 

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