A research question (a preliminary thesis statement) is a declaration of purpose that indicates what it is that you intend to explore and discuss in your paper. Establishing a research question will assist you in two ways: 1) it will help differentiate relevant from irrelevant resources by sharply defining the parameters of your topic and 2) it will eventually give structure and direction to your essay when you are ready to commence writing.
You want to explore a topic to answer three big questions:
How do you explore a topic?
If you can answer "yes" to these four questions, you usually have a good topic. Before you start Step 4 take a moment to list the questions you have about your topic. If you think you don't have questions then ask yourself "if I were reading a paper on this topic what 5 things would I want to know at the end of my reading?" Then phrase those 5 things as questions.
The staff at the Jones Information Desk and the Subject Librarians will be glad to help you with this part of your research. Below are some of the ways you can reach us.