5. Choosing a Topic, Writing a Question, Reviewing the Literature
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Choosing a Topic, Writing a Question, Reviewing the Literature
You may have heard someone ask the question, “What is your research question?” The answer is critical. Novice researchers may struggle against the temptation to begin by saying something to the effect of “I want to prove that....” It is enticing, I know—the chance to achieve some desired outcome and prove that you were right all along. This is the wrong way to begin a research project! You should never, ever, ever begin a research project with the intention of trying to prove something. This self-centered way of thinking will lead you into a swamp of roadblocks to critical thought, taking away the validity and reliability of your work. What is the benefit of reading about how some researcher went about attempting to prove a preconception? Even a hypothesis or educated guess is not certain. A researcher who begins with a hypothesis wants to find out whether or not it is true, not to prove that he or she was right all along. A professional researcher never begins with a conclusion. Instead, your objective is to answer a question and let the chips fall where they may. Not just any question—a question with an answer that could conceivably bring clarity to a challenge, illuminate a new way of thinking, or provide a solution to a problem.
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