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Undergraduate Research

This research guide has been created to assist undergraduate students with capstone or other research projects. This guide offers resources to help from selecting a topic through putting on the finishing touches.

Choosing a Topic

For your capstone or other research project, you are required to choose your own topic. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin to brainstorm a topic:

  • Your topic must be academic in nature. 
  • Make sure it is something that you like and are interested in. You will be working with this topic and your research question in depth as you complete your capstone project. 

Topics can be found in a number of places, though sometimes it can be difficult to narrow a focus or know where to start. The following are places to look for inspiration: 

  • Is there a topic that you would like to study but haven't yet had the chance to do so in one of your classes or one that you haven't had a chance to research in depth? Your capstone project would be a good opportunity to learn!
  • Explore the newest online edition of Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Simply click on the table of contents to view the latest trends in interdisciplinary research.
  • Browse news sources to see what types of topics are being discussed for a starting point. For a list of news sources Bentley Library has access to consult our Current News Resources Research Guide.
  • Review top journals in a field you are interested in to see what topics other scholars and researchers are focusing on. To identify these journals, use Cabell's Directories, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directoryand Journal Citation Reports
  • Explore some of our library databases by doing searches on a topic to see what information is out there. The following might be especially helpful to get you started:

Don't forget to keep track of all of the sources you consult along the way in developing your topic and doing preliminary research! Visit this page for some tips on how to keep track of your sources.

Developing a Research Question

Once you have a topic, the next step is to develop a research question. Your advisor will be helping you along the way but here are some things to consider in developing a good research question.

Good research questions are open-ended, meaning they do not necessarily have a simple yes or no answer and require you to consult a number of sources. Some research questions involve investigating a cause and effect, comparing two or more ideas, or measuring efficacy though there are many different types of questions to be asked.

Brainstorming and doing preliminary research can help you come up with ideas for aspects of your topic you would like to explore further.

If you have a large topic, you may need to narrow your research and question to be more manageable due to time constraints and resources available. One suggestion is to focus on a specific aspect of the topic such as:

  • Geographic area
  • Time frame
  • Population demographic (i.e. age range, sex, ethnicity, profession, etc.)
  • Industry

Keep in mind the reverse can also be true - sometimes you can have a question that is too specific that will need to be opened up a bit more to become workable.