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HIST 327: Modern African American History: Academic Inquiry

From Topic to Research Questions

"The word research means “finding out” or “discovery”, by use of systematic effort, information or answers to something you want to know. You cannot research if you do not want to know anything; i.e., you must have something you would like to know more about before you can do research. "

Moving From An Interest to a Research Question, Harvard University.


Learn more about narrowing a topic and developing a research question.

Research Process

  • Research doesn't happen in a straight line from start (assignment prompt) to finish (polished paper/presentation).
  • Research includes finding background information to help you shape your ideas.
  • Research incorporates analyses from journalists and scholars, whose ideas help you reframe and revise your research questions.
  • Research includes making evaluative decisions about which and whose perspectives to incorporate into your own scholarship.


What is "The Literature"?

How could I use this source of information?

What could a writer/presenter/performer do with this source?

More on "How to Use Sources Effectively."

Based on Bizup, J. (2008). BEAM: A rhetorical vocabulary for teaching research-based writing. Rhetoric Review 27.1, 72-86.