Should You Procrastinate or Plan? - Creating a Research Plan
or many students assigned a research paper, procrastination is a killer. They
start with some enthusiasm for their topics, yet they soon feel frustrated by
finding too few sources or overwhelmed when sifting through too many.
A good way to keep going once you decide on your topic is to create a research
plan. Like a business proposal, this plan gives you a sense of direction by
a statement of what you already know and feel about this topic. If you
don't have much to say, you may want to reconsider your topic.
- a main research question by turning your topic into a "focusing question"
that is not one-sided ("Why must we ______?") or simplistic ("Is it better
to ______ or ______?").
- a series of 12-20 specific questions that you want to answer about your
topic. Consider: what facts, example, and ideas do you want to learn to
answer your main question? This series of minor questions give you some
manageable goals as you begin reading your sources.
- a list of 5-10+ sources that seem to be useful. Check your assignment's
requirements, but you may want to have a variety of sources, such as
scholarly books, academic journals, newspapers, magazines, and web sites. It
also is important to find sources with an array of opinions on your topic.
For more on finding and evaluating sources, go to Managing Research.
For more on planning your research, see Part 1 of the UH Libraries' tutorial.