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Distance Learning Guide: Research Assistance

Information and resources for Distance Learning Students and Faculty.


Quickly and easily create bibliographies with EasyBib.

Research Assistance LibGuide

This LibGuide includes the following research-related information:

Getting Started
Types of Sources
Library Catalog
Finding Articles
Scholarly vs. Popular
Finding Websites
Citing Sources

Getting Started With Research

Narrow Topic from a Broad Topic and Create Research Question

  • Think about a broad topic you are interested in.
  • Focus on a particular aspect of the topic.
  • Narrow down the focused topic.
  • Develop a research question from the narrowed down topic.
  • Your paper will answer the research question that you develop - search for information to answer your research question.

See example below on how to take a broad topic all the way through a research question:

Broad Topic

Focused Topic

Narrowed Topic

Research Question


Acid Rain

Acid Rain in the United States

What can the United States do to prevent acid rain?


Types of Research Questions

  • Comparison
    • What are the differences with juvenile crime rates when looking at both industrialized and non-industrialized societies?
  • Cause and Effect
    • What are the causes and effects of beach erosion along the Chesapeake Bay?
  • Measuring
    • How much television do High School students in the honor program wach?

Research Question Criteria

  • Open-ended (Cannot answer with a yes or no)
  • Addresses and issue
  • Able to take a stand on

Important: Narrow your topic for a more interesting & scholarly paper.

Locate Main Concepts

  • What are the main concepts in the research question?
  • The main concepts are the terms that you search for information with.
  • Example: What can the United States do to prevent acid rain?
    • Main Concept 1: United States
    • Main Concept 2: prevent
    • Main Concept 3: acid rain

Keywords & Similar Words

  • United States (America, U.S.)
  • Prevent (prevention, stop, avert)
  • Acid Rain (acid precipitation, air pollution)

Subject Guide

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Michelle Joy
Subjects: Ask A Librarian