collage of ports

This site will be taken down June 30, 2018.

The Penn Online Research Tutorial (PORT) site was built with old software that is neither sustainable nor secure.
The pages have not been maintained, but they can be consulted for historical reference on the Internet Archive.
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Working with topics
The first step in the research process is often to develop a research question that is appropriate for your assignment, interesting and neither too broad nor too narrow. Although researchers have different techniques for developing topics, this section will guide you through a standard path to developing your research question.
Narrow your topic (if necessary)
Overly broad topics are difficult or impossible to address in the space and time allowed.
Broaden your topic (if necessary)
Overly narrow topics are so specific that you can't find enough relevant information or come to interesting conclusions.
Use your developed topic to ask a question.
A research paper that doesn't answer a question is little more than a summary. Formulate a question before you get very far into your research.
Did you know?
...that you can meet with a librarian who will can help you with many of the steps in the research process? Use this form to make an appointment.
Identify an appropriate & interesting topic.
The first step: Develop a research question that is appropriate for your assignment - interesting and neither too broad nor too narrow.
Use reference works to find background information.
The more you know about a subject the easier it is to identify a good research question about it.
Browse books and articles to learn more about a subject.
See what other people have written about a subject to identify issues that experts are interested in and have worked on.