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You should be thinking about it at the start of the course.

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" The main concepts is this problem are: European Union, global terrorism, credibility [hint: focus on identifying proper nouns, nouns or noun phrases, and action verbs in the assignment description].

: Review related literature to help refine how you will approach examining the topic and finding a way to analyze it.

: I know what you’re thinking--which topic from this list my professor has given me will be the easiest to find the most information on? Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2011; Choosing a Topic. If there isn't a lot of information about your topic, a librarian can often help you identify a closely related topic that you can study.

An effective instructor should never include a topic that is so obscure or complex that no research is available to examine and from which to begin to design a study. University of North Carolina; Chapter 1: Research and the Research Problem.

This is a good strategy for identifying important prior research about the topic because titles that are repeatedly cited indicate their significance in laying a foundation for understanding the problem.

However, if you’re having trouble at this point locating relevant research literature,: If you find an article from a journal that's particularly helpful, put quotes around the title of the article and paste it into Google Scholar.From the advanced search option in Pro Quest, a sample search would use "European Union" in one search box, "global security" in the second search box, and adding a third search box to include "debt crisis.": Remember to keep careful notes at every stage or utilize a citation management system like End Notes or Ref Works. As best as you can, choose a topic that has at least some interest to you or that you care about.You may think you'll remember what you have searched and where you found things, but it’s easy to forget or get confused. Obviously, this is easier for courses within your major, but even for those nasty prerequisite classes that you must take in order to graduate [and that provide an additional revenue stream to the university], try to apply issues associated with your major to the general topic given to you.You will likely need to do this several times before you can finalize how to approach writing about the topic.: Always review the references from your most relevant research results cited by the authors in footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography to locate related research on your topic.: Since social science research papers are generally designed to get you to develop your own ideas and arguments, look for sources that can help broaden, modify, or strengthen your initial thoughts and arguments.For example, if you decide to argue that the European Union is ill prepared to take on responsibilities for broader global security because of the debt crisis in many EU countries, then focus on identifying sources that support refute this position. In thinking about a research topic to study, don't adopt the mindset of pursuing an esoteric or incredibly complicated topic just to impress your professor but that, in reality, does not have any real interest to you.Most databases have a search history feature that allows you to go back and see what searches you conducted previously as long as you haven't closed your session. For example, if you are an IR major taking a philosophy class where the assignment asks you to apply the question of "what is truth" to some aspect of life, you could choose to study how government leaders attempt to shape truth through the use of propaganda.If you start over, that history could be deleted.: Assuming you've done an effective job of synthesizing and thinking about the results of your initial search for related literature, you're ready to prepare a detailed outline for your paper that lays the foundation for a more in-depth and focused review of relevant research literature [after consulting with a librarian, if needed! How will you know you haven't done an effective job of synthesizing and thinking about the results of our initial search for related literature? Librarians are experts in locating information and providing strategies for analyzing existing knowledge in new ways.You can begin by doing any or all of the following: reading through background information from materials listed in your course syllabus; searching the USC Libraries Catalog to find a recent book on the topic and, if appropriate, more specialized works about the topic; conducting a preliminary review of the research literature using multidisciplinary library databases such as Pro Quest or subject-specific databases from the "By Subject Area" drop down menu located above the list of databases.Choose the advanced search option feature and enter into each search box the main concept terms you developed in Step 1.

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