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Biological Health Sciences

Don't know what to research?

I don't know what to research!

You are not alone - choosing a research topic is often the hardest part of doing research.

As you brainstorm, ask yourself these questions

  • What have you found interesting about class discussions?
  • Is there anything in class (a discussion, reading) that is of interest?
  • Is there anything in class (a discussion, reading) that you are curious about?


What is primary research?

Also consider the type of information you are looking for.  Different sources provide different types of information.

A Primary Source is original research, the first place a researcher publishes his or her findings. Examples: journal articles, conference presentations, technical reports, and laboratory or field data.

  • Contains a detailed description of the research methodology and results. 
  • List of references to articles that the research is based on or attempting to refute. 

A Secondary Source discusses, explains, describes, analyzes, or summarizes primary sources. Examples: books and review articles. 

  • Provides the citations (references) that will point to primary literature.

A Tertiary Source explains, describes or analyzes a group of secondary sources. Examples: annotated bibliographies, entries in encyclopedias or dictionaries.

  • Great place to find background information on a topic.

Use Web of Science to Explore a Topic

Since science builds on the research of others, Web of Science is a great tool for exploring a topic.  Here are a few tips to help.

  1. Start with a broad search.
  2. Use system features to search within your results and narrow (by subject, publication type, authors, etc.). 
  3. Use the search history to return to repeat a previous search.
  4. Use the  times cited  to trace research forward.  Who has used this research to build their own research?
  5. Look at the cited references to trace research backwards.  What research did this researcher think was important?
  6. Use related records to find related research based on shared citations.  Who is doing similar research?