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Research Methods - Pacific & Asian Studies

Things that need to know for your research

Identify Your Research Topic/question

Here you will find a how-to guide and useful tools on exploring potential research questions. I highly recommend you to talk with your instructor about your research topic before starting the research.

Step One Evaluate on how much you know about the topic and start some test searches to explore the topic.

You may use any of the following sources to interrogate your potential topic, looking for background information, related issues, and key theories and researchers.

Step Two Select a couple overview articles to read to gain a good understanding of the scope of the topic, which are the subtopics or related topics, key issues, different opinions, key figures, places and so on. When reading, put down the keywords or terms that you think may be useful for your future search. Pay attention to the bibliography list at the end of the article since it will point you to other relevant sources that you did not find. 

Step Three For your interested topic, try to select one or two more articles to read for understanding the topic better. Sometimes, books provide more comprehensive covering on a topic. You need to limit your result list to books.

Step Four  Draft a research question with a list of best keywords to describe your topic. The keywords will be the search terms for your further research in the library. 

This is a back-and-forth process. When looking at your search results, you might wish to think actively on questions such as

  • What other scholars have written on this potential topic?
  • What are the relevant sub-topics/questions or key scholars?
  • Is there any focus on time periods or geographic areas for the topic?
  • Which perspectives look interesting to you? 
  • If  you work on this topic, how will you organize my paper? Anything you may learn from the sources?

Be prepared to start a new search to test your new ideas of research topics! 



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