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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.

Generating a Research Question

Now that you have a topic you've found through these brainstorming methods and have identified as viable based on some quick, preliminary research, it's time to turn that topic into a researchable, answerable question. Research questions often delve into "How?" or "Why?" instead of posing questions with simpler or yes-and-no answers. "Who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling?" is not a viable research question. "Why did Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling using the imagery he chose?" is a viable question. 

For the Agatha Christie example, I narrowed the topic of detective fiction authors to Agatha Christie and decided I'd like to look into her time as a nurse during WWI. I can create a few different questions based on this topic:

  • How did Christie's time as a nurse influence her career as a detective fiction author?
  • How did Christie's experiences as a wartime nurse influence her stories?

These questions may seem similar, and they are, but one focuses on her career and the second looks at the content of her books. 

For the movie mind map example, let's say I chose to look into movies based on banned books. Even if I've picked a specific book, such as Harper Lee's (1960) To Kill a Mockingbird, I need to decide what kind of question I'm answering.

  • How was the film adaptation of Lee's novel received?
  • How do similarities and differences between the book and its adaptation impact the message of the film?