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Middle Eastern Studies

To support the study of the history, culture, religion, and politics of the Middle East

Search Strategies

Use reference sources to explore your topic or subject interest

  • Gather background knowledge on your topic

  • Identify and make a note of terms and concepts relevant to your topic 

  • Identify scholars and individuals important to your subject area


Test your topic

Is it original

  • Has someone already answered your research question?

Test the “So what” factor

  • Is it relevant?

  • Is the answer obvious?

  • Why would your audience be interested?

Is it feasible to complete

  • Is there enough information on the topic?
  • Is there enough time to cover the information required to answer your research question?
  • Are the resources required available to you?

Sample Research Questions


Simple vs. Complex

Too simple: How are doctors addressing diabetes in the U.S.?

Appropriate: What are common traits of those suffering from diabetes in America, and how can these commonalities be used to aid the medical community in prevention of the disease?

Unclear: Why are social networking sites harmful?

Clear: How are online users experiencing or addressing privacy issues on social networking sites like Facebook?

Unfocused: What is the effect on the environment from global warming?

Focused: How is glacial melting affecting penguins in Antarctica?


Adapted from: George Mason University Writing Center. (2008). How to Write a Research Question.

From Topic to Research question - from Indiana University Bloomington Libraries