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CHE104 - General Chemistry 2 - Gamby: Research Strategies

Step 1: Select a Topic

Need an idea for a chemistry research topic?

Check out the latest headlines from the Scientific American Chemistry and C&EN news feeds for possible ideas.  

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Step 2: Develop a Knowledge Base

Narrow your Topic

Reference sources like subject specific encyclopedias and handbooks can help you explore the basics of the subject matter you are dealing with, and because they often cover issues or controversies that surround a topic can be helpful in narrowing down or refining a broad research topic.


Tools: 

Credo Reference

Wikipedia is another example of an online encyclopedia to use to explore your research topic and develop search vocabulary. (Check out this video from UMASS Lowell about using wikipedia as springboard for your research)

Step 3: Create a Research Question

Why formulate a research question?

1. A question allows you to search for answers.

2. A question helps you to determine what are useful sources for your research and discard others that aren't.

3. Will help to indicate when you have enough information to stop your research.

4. Helps avoid potential research bias.


A good research question:

  • is multi-concepted (2-4 concepts tend to be best)
  • solves a problem or investigates something
  • involves a controversial issue
  • is not esoteric - would someone actually have published information or data related to your question?

Step 4: Conduct a Literature Review

1. Develop search vocabulary by generating direct synonyms, narrower terms and broaders terms for your research concepts.

2. Search book, video, article and web documents for current information that answers your research question.

Step 5: Select and Evaluate Sources

Select sources for your research that:

  • Add new information to your existing body of evidence
  • Provide a new perspective or claim for your research
  • Lead to other sources of information that might provide more details or better evidence

Look at specific criteria for evaluating sources:

Purpose. Authority. Currency. Content

Step 6: Cite Your Sources

Record your sources as you proceed with your research.

NSCC Libraries have several citation tools that can assist you with generating citations and creating a References page for your sources.

The Research Process