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Applied Arts and Sciences at Missoula College: Home

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Suggested Library Resources for Applied Arts and Sciences (AAS)

The Department of Applied Arts and Sciences offers courses to fulfill an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree.

Use your NetID and password to access library databases off campus.

Developing a Research Question

1. Select a topic that genuinely interests you. Look at course readings, class notes, Google, Wikipedia, CQ Researcher or Credo Reference for initial ideas.

2. Consider the scope of your topic. If it is too narrow, you might have trouble finding enough information. If it is too broad, you might be overwhelmed with information.

  • Think about your assignment prompt while determining the scope of your topic. It is important to consider the size of the assignment and the length of time you have to complete it when thinking about scope. 

3. Turn your focused topic into a research question. Know that your research question may change depending on what sorts of resources you find. While you should have a topic or question in mind, allow the sources you find, along with your interests, to help shape and refine your topic further.

Questions to guide the development of your research question:

  • Is it focused enough to be covered in my paper or project?
  • Is there enough literature available on this topic?
  • What is the question that my research is answering?
  • Am I genuinely interested in this topic?
  • Is my topic going to be new and interesting to my audience?

Keywords

Brainstorming keywords will help you refine your topic, find the most information about your topic and save you time by helping you search databases in a more efficient and systematic way.

(Why? Different authors will refer to the same concept in different ways. Having a comprehensive list of keywords to search will help you find more relevant information.)

1. Pick out the main ideas in your research question. For example, the main ideas in this research question are in bold: “How does legalization of marijuana affect mental health rates in the United States?”

2. Take each of your main ideas and brainstorm as many synonyms, related words, acronyms, initialisms and spelling variants as you can. For example, for "United States":

  • United States of America
  • America
  • USA
  • U.S.A.
  • U.S.

3. Do this for each of your main ideas. Searching all the variants you can come up with will give you a broader selection of relevant information. It might help to make a chart to keep track of the combinations you have tried.

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