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How do I identify the main ideas in my research question?

In Google, we tend to search by typing in our questions as sentences, but most library catalogues or article databases do not understand this "natural language" searching. This is why it’s important to break down your question into main ideas.

The main ideas of your question or research topic are what you’ll want to discuss in your assignment. A question usually has more than one main idea (often three or four).

Example

Your question is "What are the effects of media coverage and public opinion polling during an election campaign?"

There are three main ideas in this question:

  • Media coverage
  • Public opinion polling
  • Election campaign
Take note!

For a search strategy to be effective, you need to be able to tell the difference between significant and non-significant or meaningless words. Terms like "consequence" or "effect" are non-significant because they don’t represent an idea. They may even reduce the amount or results you get in your search.

Activity - Give it a try!

For each topic, select the appropriate combination of words that best identifies the topic's main ideas.

Congratulations! You did it!

Try again!

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page last updated on: Friday 12 January 2018
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