Answered By: Reference/Instruction Librarians
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2016     Views: 18

At the beginning of your research process, you most likely have a topic but not yet a research question. Until you know something about the subject, you simply cannot know which questions are still controversial. Background research can help lead you to basic information about your topic. 

  • You will learn what about your topic is well-known and established; you should avoid creating a research question in those areas.  There isn't much point in exploring something that is already known. 
  • As you do your pre-research, note what questions people have about the topic.  Make your research question is focused:  "Do twins have a psychic connection?" may work better than the more broad "Does ESP exist?" 

Watch this 3-minute video to understand why doing background research is part of picking a topic.

Need help brainstorming? Our database Opposing Viewpoints has a long list of possible topics under "Browse Issues" to help you get started.


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