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This week, you will choose a topic for your research essay due at the end of Module 6. Please follow the steps below before making your initial discussion post. In your post, you will communicate the topic and question that you have developed by going through this process.

Step 1: Start by identifying a topic, issue, or problem related to your field of academic study or your work. Since your research essay must persuade your audience of something, rather than merely providing them with information, it is important to select a topic or problem that does not have a simple, easy answer. Since your research essay should be 4-5 pages long, make sure that you select a topic that can be covered well in this amount of space. If your topic is too broad, you may need to focus on just one part of it. If your topic is too narrow, you may need to select a different topic where there is more to write about.

Step 2: Do some preliminary research on your topic by searching for related terms (keywords) using the OneSearch function on the Excelsior Library Web site. (Links to an external site.) One way to find good sources is to check the box under the OneSearch entry field next to the words Limit to Peer Reviewed Journals. If you are having trouble finding high-quality sources, contact the Excelsior College Librarians. (Links to an external site.) They should be able to help you with this.

Step 3: Finally, you should develop a research question based on your topic. Your research question is the question that your research essay will attempt to answer. For example, if your research topic is clinical depression, you might use one of the following research questions:

            What causes clinical depression?
            What is the impact of clinical depression on the American economy?
            What role does depression play in the educational achievement of American school children?

Notice how each of the examples above takes the broad topic (clinical depression) and narrows the focus to something that is more manageable in a short research paper. There are many ways to narrow down this topic:

            You could focus on depression in one particular population group (teenagers, college students, postpartum mothers, women, men, the elderly, etc.).
            You could focus on a particular environment (the military, schools, businesses, etc.).
            You could focus on different aspects of depression: causes, effects, treatments, etc.
            You could focus on one particular theory or approach, for example, cognitive behavioral therapy and the treatment of depression.

Once you have worked through the three steps above on your own, make an initial post in this weeks discussion. In your initial post, include the following:

            Share your research essay topic with the class.
            Share your process of preliminary research that led you to choose this topic. What research did you do, and what kinds of sources did you find?
            At the end of your first post, share your research question for that topic.

Your initial post is due by Thursday at 11:59 PM EST. You will not be able to see posts written by your classmates until you create your initial post.
Connect With Classmates

Respond to at least two classmates providing feedback on their research essay topics. Do the research topic and question fit the assignment requirements? If so, why? If not, why not? You may also offer tips or suggestions for how to find good sources, based on your experiences during the week.

Please respond to two classmates by Sunday 11:59 PM EST

The Ingredients of Research
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