Starting Your Research
What do you know?
A great first place to start is to take an inventory of what you know about the topic. You can also make a list of all related subjects or terms. It's a good diea at this point to ask yourself where your knowledge came from. Is it an "old wives' tale" or what you consider to be common knowledge? You'd be surprised how often you will find out that what we often call "common knowledge" isn't accurate at all, especially with current events or controversial topics. This is a good time in your research to double-check the facts.
Gather background information/Define key terms
A great place to start for this is Britannica Academic. This is a great place to get history, background, definitions, and other information regarding progression, testing, and current research. This is also where you can dispel myths and factcheck what you already know. You can also search for credible websites (see below), the Gale Virtual Reference Library, or the Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia.
Make a list of relevant search terms and related terms and concepts.
This list will help you to do comprehensive database searches, and will help you be able to explain key concepts related to the disease you are researching.
For example, if my topic was "avian flu", my list of terms might be:
- avian influenza
- poultry virus diseases
- influenza h5n1
- respiratory conditions
- public health
- influenza a virus
- influenza vaccines
...and so on.
Now you are ready to head to the databases to find a peer-reviewed research article.
One thing that can really help your research is the willingness to admit that something you thought was true is wrong. Your research might take you in a different direction than you originally intended, or it might challenge a long-held belief. Be open to different perspectives; at the very least, understanding other points of view will enhance your own arguments, and through that process, you might learn something new.