Section 1 Choosing and focusing a topic > Creating and refining a research question > Review

Now you'll need to raise a question about your topic that you can answer adequately within the length of the paper you are required to write. With the Oil Pollution Act as your subject, you might create the following question for a twenty-page paper:

In what ways was the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 intended to address the problems made apparent by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?  

Finally, consider what subjects you will need to include in the paper to provide an adequate response to the question you have raised. To answer this question you should do the following:

  • Briefly describe the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
  • Detail the causes of the spill
  • Describe the effects of the spill
  • Explain the provisions of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990
  • Discuss what exactly the Act mandates to address the causes and effects of the spill

Now you're ready to begin selecting sources.

© Reeves Library, Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary greyhound image © Morgan Conn, used with permission. Site designed by Ashley Garrett and Dorothy Glew.