This research guide is designed to help you with all aspects of your research for the Research Paper: advice for successful research, finding background information, finding useful journal articles and books, evaluating information sources, citing sources in Chicago Style [Notes & Bibliography].
The best papers emerge from your interest in a research area--if you're not interested in it, why should the reader be?
As you begin to think about your topic....
Areas of focus may be:
Based on the scope of your paper, sometimes exploring one focus is appropriate; sometimes more than one focus is appropriate. You'll determine this once you begin searching, based on whether you're finding way too much or very little information.
An encyclopedia essay may be useful to introduce even more aspects of a topic. Sometimes it takes several attempts to properly refine a topic. You are aiming for a research question that will enable you to make good decisions about what kind of source material you need and where you should look for that material.
Sometime using a “Concept Map” helps you create a visual diagram of the thinking you are engaged in, so you can reflect, sort, and refocus the ideas easily. Concept mapping is a good way to visualize the connections your mind makes between concepts and ideas. A concept map often generates keywords and synonyms/related terms. When trying to create a research question, concept mapping helps organize your thoughts and can lead you to isolate ideas that can make for a solid research paper.
There are no wrong answers! This is the phase of researching when you can let your mind go wherever it wants to.