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PPOL 5170 - Public Management and Leadership: Topic to Research Question(s)

Analyze Your Information Needs

Before you start searching  try to clarify "what you really need to find". Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I already know  (or think I know) about this topic?
    • What words do experts use to discuss it?
    • What time frame am I investigating or hope to investigate (any scope on time?)
    • What larger issues surround it?
    • What sub-sections does this topic have?
      • Would one of these be more suitable for my paper or essay?
  • What do I want to know more about this topic?
  • What sort of evidence or data would help me know more about this topic?

Once you have a clearer picture of what you need, you can then examine your assignment topic, break it down into small components (concepts and keywords) to make your search more efficient.


Videos on Developing Research Questions

Mind Mapping Video

This video outlines the mind-mapping technique, to get you from broad ideas to more narrow topics, and to help you see different approaches and questions

My Research Question(s)?

A topic is NOT a research question. 


Topic: Solid waste & recycling in Japan

Possible Question:  What factors have led to Japan's successful e-waste recycling programs?

Possible Question:  Which features of Japan's solid waste management policies, laws, and implementation could be transferred to other national and cultural contexts for e-waste reduction? What bad practices could be avoided?

How to go from topic to questions:

1. Do some background reading (encyclopedias, short magazine or news articles)

2. List questions & answers you may already have

  • Who
  • What
  • Where 
  • When
  • How
  • Why

3. Think about your questions and what answers you have.

4. Try to make a  few clear questions, that are based on some of the ideas (theories, words, methods)  that you have learned in your course.

5. Try to choose one of the questions, not too wide & not too narrow.

6. Be prepared for your question to change.

Based on: "How do I get from a topic to a research question" -  from Cambridge LibAnswers


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