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PHI 440: Gender Today: Getting Started

Tips for Getting Started

Form a Research Question
All good research begins with a question.  Often this question will be rewritten several times as you begin to settle on what it is you want to research.  Research questions usually begin with a "how" or "why" statement and invites further investigation and inquiry that will help you explore your ideas.  This question will help guide you as you do your research and guide your readers as they consider the argument you are making in your paper. 

To form a research question, trying asking yourself the following questions about your topic:

  1. What are you interested in studying?
  2. Why are you studying this topic?  What are you looking to discover?
  3. What are you trying to help your reader understand about this topic?

Identify Keywords
Once you have your research question formed, break it down into its fundamental ideas or keywords.  Usually 2-3 keywords is a good place to begin thinking about how you will research for this topic.  

Form a Research Plan
Think about your question and spend a few minutes thinking about the kinds of research you will need to look for to help answer your question.  Is there a term you need to provide a definition of to help your reader understand your argument?  Do you need to setup the context of the particular historical era you are examining.  If yes, you might start with background research, looking for high level information to help situate your readers with your ideas.  

Background Research

Begin your research by researching broadly.  You might not know a lot about your topic yet and you need to get some ideas going about how you will make the case for your argument in your paper.  Use background resource material such as reference books and online encyclopedias to help put your topic in context.  

Below are some examples of sources to help get you started in background research.

Online Reference Sources

Need Help with a Topic?

Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a Gale hosted database that provides topic pages and resources for major issues in the world today.  Issues range from anything to feminism, gendercide, transgender people, and more.  Each topic page contains an overview of the issue and provides pro and con viewpoints on the particular issue.  It will also provide links to academic journal articles, popular source articles such as newspapers, videos, and other relevant media files.  

Reference Books