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Lund University


Biology library guide to information searches

Define research question

Define your research question/subject/problem

Having a well defined subject will make it much easier to evaluate the search result. Don’t underestimate this step! You will likely adjust your research question at a later stage but you will save a lot of time thinking this through carefully from the beginning. Realize and accept that this step takes time, and should take time. It usually helps a lot if you define your topic as a question.

Start with reading an overview, for example a textbook, a subject specific encyclopedia or a review article. Think broad. Wikipedia is ok to get a general introduction to a subject, but do not cite.

If you are uncertain about whether your research question is suitable for the task at hand, talk to your teacher or a researcher within the subject about whether the subject may be too broad or narrow. There is always a balance between finding a subject that is well established but perhaps too broad or uninteresting or a subject that is very new and exciting but where very little is published.