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EDUC 546: Introduction to School Counseling

A guide to Wilson Library resources useful for students in the University of La Verne's master's degree in School Counseling.

Creating a research question

Define Your Topic as a Focused Research Question

You will often begin with a word, develop a more focused interest in an aspect of something relating to that word, then begin to have questions about the topic. 

For example:

Ideas = Academic Achievement
Research Question = How does family structure affect an elementary school student's academic achievement?
Focused Research Question = How can school counselors work with families to improve elementary school students' academic achievement?

From Thomson Library, University of Michigan-Flint guide HOW TO SELECT A RESEARCH TOPIC: 


Define your keywords

  • It is very important to use targeted keywords. Break up the topic you are researching into its main concepts, then define keywords for each concept.
  • Next, expand the list by writing down synonyms and alternative phrasings for each keyword.

Checklist for defining keywords

  • What alternative vocabulary is used in discussion of my topic?
  • Are there American and British variants of spelling or vocabulary?
  • Can I identify a word-stem for truncation? E.g., child* to find child, children, or childhood.
  • Are common abbreviations or acronyms used?
  • What more general terms might include my topic?

Search Strategy

AND narrows a search
OR broadens a search
Asterisk * is a wild card or truncation symbol—you will get anything with that root word and other plural or variations
Quotation marks “” around two or more works searches terms as a phrase

For example:

"family structure*" AND "academic achievement" AND "elementary school student*"