RLC - Research StrategiesHome
Analyzing the Assignment
The Writing Process
The Reading Process
Research Strategies
Connections: RLC and Other Courses
Teacher Strategies
Professional and Technical Writing Major
RLC Department Information
RLC Glossary
Site Map

Should You Procrastinate or Plan? - Creating a Research Plan

For 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 including

  • 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.