The Research Process

Coming Up With a Research Strategy: Using Wikipedia (!?)

You have chosen a topic. You have taken that topic and developed it into a research question or a hypothesis. Now it is time to begin your research. But before diving deep into google, it can be helpful to thinking about what kinds of information you want and/or need.

A research strategy involves deciding what you need to know in order to answer your research question.

What data do you need?

What can different kinds of sources – popular or scholarly, primary/secondary/tertiary – offer you?

Whose perspectives could help you to answer your research question?

What kinds of professionals/scholars will be able to give you the information you seek?

What kinds of keywords should you be using to get the information that you want?

It can be helpful to begin by getting comfortable with the basics. And Wikipedia, that place that we have all been told at one point or another to avoid, can be a great place to start.

  • Do you fully understand the history of your topic?
  • Do you understand the current situation/most recent information on your topic?
  • Do you know about key events that have shaped the controversy surrounding your topic?

This is where Wikipedia can actually be helpful. You can go to Wikipedia to get your bearings on your topic, to identify key terms, people, events, arguments or other elements that are essential to understanding your topic. Should you cite Wikipedia? NO. Should you be using it as a source? NO. But Wikipedia can give you some wonderful access to the basics surrounding your topic and help you to get started.

Wikipedia and Your Research Strategy

Visit the Wikipedia page for your research topic.

  1. What key words did you find that you can use in further research?
  2. What aspects of controversy surrounding your topic (people, events, dates, or other specifics) can you use in further research?
  3. What sources (from the Wikipedia page’s List of References) will you pursue and perhaps locate and read?