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We live on a vastly diverse planet filled thousands of living organisms. It is no secret that while we have many technological advancements our planet is suffering. There is an outstanding amount of water, land, and air pollution future generations will have to solve for. Regardless to whether you individually choose to acknowledge it or not, our world is changing. Therefore, I have decided to donate $50,000.00 (group dinner) as a startup, for the group that orchestrates an effective plan to solve for one environmental concern. Note: Each environmental concern is important. However, the group that collectively produces the best persuasive argument will be awarded.
Start off with your overall central topic: in this example, we're starting with Game of Thrones. What can you think of about that show? It's in the fantasy genre, it's adapted from a book series, it had a huge cast, it won awards, people liked (except when they didn't), it had highly-quality set design (except when it didn't)... and on and on.
You're trying to accumulate lots of ideas at this point! Big picture. Make connections, and write whatever comes to mind. When you start getting stuck, turn to Google, Credo Reference, and/or Wikipedia to get more ideas.
Once you've filled out the map of your topic a bit, look at where you have the most ideas: this is probably the strongest aspect of your topic, and what you should focus your research on.
All those other ideas? We're not going to use them. We want to deeply explore one narrow aspect of the big topic, not try to talk about everything to do with the big topic ever. (That's the job of probably a multi-volume book, not a short essay!)
It's important to still go through this process, though, even if we aren't using most of the ideas, because a) we have to see all this to figure out which thing we're targeting, and b) it still gives us context for how we actually understand the overall topic -- everything is connected! Plus, if we decide we hate our chosen topic, we can come back to drawing board and go another direction easily.
This end result of our mind map is the research topic we'd look into further for the paper: how the costumes were designed for the show and how they were used to reinforce aspects of the fictional cultures displayed. Now we can start targeting our research to just those aspects, either for the show in particular (probably web and news articles), but also more general resources about costume design that we can apply to what we've seen here.
Managing Your Research
While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:
OneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students.
Evernote - The basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.
Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.