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Global Village (GLS 219) : Getting Started

What Do You Want to Find Out?

Before you begin searching, identify your international or global problem or controversy, and come up with your research question

Problem: endangered species too broad

Problem: danger of extinction of whales

Research question: What are the main threats to whales today? does not ask for a solution

Research question: What is the best way for the US to ensure that whales do not become extinct?


Controversy: pollution too broad

Controversy: carbon tax

Research question: What is a carbon tax, and what are its effects? does not ask for an answer to the controversy, is more than one question

Research question: Should the United States implement a carbon tax?

Scope of the Problem or Controversy

Is your problem or controversy (and thus question) the right size for the assignment? If it's too broad, you could write a book and never answer the question. If it's too narrow, you will have trouble finding resources and fulfilling the minimum word count.

too broad: endangered animals 

(potentially) just right: potential extinction of whales

too narrow: ship collisions causing the extinction of the North Atlantic right whale


too broad: pollution 

(potentially) just right: carbon tax

too narrow: effects of a carbon tax on the cement industry


As you start your research, you may have to refine the scope of your problem.

Exploratory Questions vs. Research Questions

Your research question must ask for a solution to the international/global problem or an answer to the international/global controversy.

While first researching your topic, you may need to ask and answer exploratory questions. Exploratory questions are not research questions, however. 

Things Exploratory Questions Do Example Exploratory Question
ask for background information on a topic What does the government do to protect Americans’ jobs from being outsourced?
ask factual or procedural questions What are the steps to changing international law regarding refugee status?
ask whether a problem exists or whether experts take a controversy seriously Do nuclear weapons impact global security?
ask for a description of the problem/controversy or how the problem/controversy came to be How did Myanmar become of one the world's poorest countries?

Research questions ask for a solution to the international/global problem or an answer to the international/global controversy:

What is the best way for the US government keep jobs in the automobile industry from being outsourced?

Should the United States push for a new international agreement on refugee rights? (controversy)

What is the best way for the international community to prevent North Korea from developing the capacity of its nuclear weapons?

What is the best way for the US to help Myanmar out of poverty?


Identify your keywords from your research question.


international agreement

Think of synonyms. Not every author will use the same terms to write about your topic. Think of other terms that might be used (and look out for synonyms in your search results). 

Keywords and synonyms:

refugee, asylum seeker

international agreement, international law

Quick Search: Everything

Basic Library Research Handout

Evaluating Sources