After completing this section, you will be able to develop a research question and identify key concepts that describe your information need(s).
Before you can begin your literature review, you will need to select a topic. It is helpful to think about your research topic as a question. For example, instead of a topic like "diversity", you could ask, "How do diversity training programs impact hiring practices in retail organizations?"
A good research question is manageable in scope - not too broad, but not too narrow. If your topic is too broad, you may become overwhelmed and find it difficult to organize your ideas. If your topic is too narrow, you may not be able to find enough information to include in your literature review.
It is often helpful to start with a broad idea, then narrow your focus by brainstorming related ideas. If you have a general area of interest, you can think about various issues in that general subject area. Do any of your ideas present a puzzle or problem that you are interested in investigating? Are there issues that make you wonder about causes or consequences?
As you brainstorm your topic, you may find it useful to document your ideas using a concept map. As you begin to investigate and evaluate scholarly literature on your topic, you may find it necessary to revise your original research question based on what you learn. Be sure to expand your literature search to include any new concepts you may identify along the way.
Your research question should be clear, focused, and complex enough to allow for adequate research and analysis. Most importantly, your research question should be interesting to you - you will be spending a great deal of time researching and writing so you should be eager to learn more about it.
Your problem statement or research question:
A good problem statement or research question:
Use the concept map handout or one of the free, mind mapping applications to help you brainstorm and develop a research question.
Learn how concept or mind maps can help your develop a research topic or question.