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Library Research Tutorial: Adapted from Canvas Course

This Research Guide runs through the same information as the Library Tutorial course in Canvas. Use this guide to quickly access that information without needing to log into Canvas, and use it as a refresher for the main points in the Canvas tutorial.

Introduction to Brainstorming

In many cases, your research topic will be grounded in your course topic. For example, a research paper for a bioethics course will have something to do with bioethics. However, for courses like introductory English, a topic choice may be much more open-ended. This can make choosing a topic daunting and difficult, but brainstorming can be a great place to start. 

First, what are you interested in? Sports, politics, movies, books, local events? Make a list of broad topics, and then, get more specific. 

Ask yourself the following questions about a topic as you brainstorm:

  • What do I know about my topic?
  • What do I like/dislike about my topic?
  • Why does this topic matter to me?
  • How does this topic relate to my major?
  • What is controversial about my topic?

Brainstorming Example: Movies

For example, let's say I want to write a research paper on movies. Okay, great. What about movies interests me? And more than that, what about movies is controversial? What about movies do people discuss at length? 

My initial list of brainstorming may look something like this:

  • superhero films
    • Marvel
      • MCU Phase 1
    • DC
    • animated
      • Spider-Verse series
  • movies based on books
    • movies based on banned books
      • To Kill a Mockingbird
      • The Hate U Give
  • classic movies 
    • remakes of classic movies
      • Disney animated films to live action
        • casting controversies
    • old Hollywood
      • black and white
      • color
        • The Wizard of Oz
      • silent film era
        • Charlie Chaplin

Mind Map Example

Now, I'm a list person. I like lists. Some people are more visual and prefer mind maps. Online tools like Padlet and MindMeister can help you create a mind map, outline, timeline, etc. A pen and paper are always useful, too! 

A MindMeister map of the above list may look like:

screenshot showing mind map of nested list in previous box