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LING 411 Advanced Syntactic Analysis

This course guide focuses on the functional categories in clause structure.

Identify Your Research Question

Identify Your Research Topic/question

It is tricky to decide on a proper research question. Here you will find a how-to guide with tools your can use to explore potential research questions.

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

You may use any of the following tools to investigate your potential topic, looking for background information, related issues, and good summaries.

 Step Two Read the overview to gain a good understanding of the scope of the topic, what are the subtopics or related topics, key issues, different opinions, key figures, places and so on. When reading, write down the keywords or terms that you think may be useful for your future search.

Step Three Try to select one or two more articles to read to collect background information. List additional keywords.

Step Four  Draft a research question and test it in the library searches.

Find Essential Studies on My Topic

  • Start with a good scholarly summary on your topic to identify who are the key researchers
  • Determine on what kind of materials you are looking for: books or articles published in which period (for historical review)
  • Read the footnotes and the reference lists in your course readings, keeping an eye out on the studies referred by several different items
  • Some databases such as Web of Science and Google Scholar provides information on how frequently a sources was cited in other publications
  • If you already find a good source on the topic, check the literature review section to see what sources it use and why.
  • Check if there are bibliographies or review/survey articles on the topic


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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.