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Literature search: From topic to research question

Overall guide for literature search

From topic to research question

The goal is to identify the important aspects of your topic and to define your main question. The result should be a focused research question with clear sub questions, specific enough to answer and broad enough so that you will find enough information on it.

Main points to consider for your topic

  • personal interest: do you find it interesting?
  • new hypothesis, new insights, or new aspects related to other research
  • do-able, achievable, considering the time limit (of the course/thesis)
  • specific enough to answer, but;
  • broad enough to find sufficient literature on the topic
  • no yes or no question, not a simple answer to the overall research question

Frame your topic

Start asking yourself open-ended "how" and "w-questions" about your topic.

  • Who is involved?
  • What is your main topic/definition?
  • When does it takes place?
  • Where does it take place?
  • Why is this important?
  • How did it happen?


Developing a research question

Tutorial: developing a research question