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Research: Joining the Conversation


Thank you to librarian Wade M. Bishop of the Univ. of Toledo for permission to adapt his original guide

Speaking the Same Language

If you've ever tried to have a conversation in a foreign language, you know it can be tough and takes practice. In conversations among researchers, much the same is true: those that have spent years studying your topic can seem to speak a different language.

Most research discussions don't start back at the basics, but give a brief introduction and assume prior knowledge. This page offers strategies for gaining understanding of the conversation that interests you.

Background Knowledge & Vocabulary

Reference sources are a great place to begin your research. They can help you:

  • gain an overview of a topic
  • explore potential research areas
  • identify key issues, publications, or authors in your research area

From here, you can narrow your search topic and look at more specialized sources.

Research Methods

Every discipline has its own methods of conducting research.  These can be experimental procedures described in the 'methodology' section of research articles, basic ways of conducting field research, or broad theoretical frameworks.

Resources on research methods in various fields: 

Theoretical Frameworks

A theoretical framework is a "lens" through which an issue is viewed and explored. It is shaped by concepts and theories that inform how one thinks about and pursues the given issue. The critical theories that inform research can vary by discipline, but also often overlap.

A theoretical framework is often described in a scholarly article's introduction, literature review, or research methods section. This framework is usually reflected throughout the paper as well.