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POLI_SCI_395: Human Rights and the Environment (Suiseeya)

Topics on Human Rights and the Environment

Background Information, Developing a Question, Selecting Keywords for Searching

Below is a sample list of background sources such as handbooks and encyclopedias that contain article entries on various topics of potential relevance to this course.  Feel free to browse or scan each book's table of contents in case of interest.

Use NU Search to browse for books, reference entries, and periodicals to build background information.

After you have an initial project idea, you can think deeper about the idea by developing a "Topic + Question + Significance" sentence. This formula came from Kate Turabian's Student's Guide to Writing College Papers. Turabian notes that you can use it plan and test your question, but do not incorporate this sentence directly into your paper (p. 13):

TOPIC: I am working on the topic of __________,
QUESTION: because I want to find out __________,
SIGNIFICANCE: so that I can help others understand __________.

Turabian, Kate L. Student's Guide to Writing College Papers. 4th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2010.

Another way to think about question development:

  • Which specific subset of the topic you can focus on? Specific demographic groups, people, places, times
  • Is there something about this topic that is not already addressed in scholarship?
  • Is there a relationship you can explore:
    • cause/effect
    • compare/contrast
    • current/historical
    • group/individual
    • opinion/reason
    • problem/solution

How do you move from a research question to searching in a database? You first have to pick out keywords from your research question.