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CrashCourse: US History playlist
You will often begin by selecting a research topic, then defining a research question within this topic to investigate. What's the difference?
A simple topic is too broad. For example:
A research question must also not be too narrow.
As you explore scholarly secondary sources and historical primary sources, you may need to periodically re-evaluate your research question to ensure that it is neither too broad nor too narrow.
Robert C. Williams suggests that a research question might:
Source: Williams, Robert C. The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History. Second ed. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2007.
BEFORE you sit down at the computer to start searching for books, articles, and primary sources, take a moment to think about WHAT you will search for.
Write down key words, phrases, names, and dates that might relate to your topic.
HOW do you come up with the words to write down?
Make notes about how these words and phrases relate to each other, using AND, OR, and NOT to connect ideas (see diagrams below).