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How do I: Develop a Research Question

This guide covers Information, Media, and Digital Literacy concepts and Digital Citizenship Gr. 7-8 students, as well as teachers & parents.

Develop a Research Question

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds, license Creative Commons

Reference Sources: Databases & Websites

VLC Bookmark

Logins for all VLC databases are found on the back of the VLC Bookmark.

Talk to your LCI today!

Teacher Resources

Steps to Develop a Research Question & to get Started on your Search

Begin your research by doing background reading, this will give you an overview of your topic.  You need to use Reference Sources!  They help you discover:

  • terminology & definitions
  • important people 
  • important dates
  • important places


Based on the information found in your background reading, identify a specific topic that you would like to learn more about. Your final Research Question should help you to dive deep into this topic.

Here's what to do:

  • Use mind-mapping or brainstorming techniques and tools to help you figure out how what you learned in your brainstorming could be part of your topic.  See the links below.
  • Write a few different questions that you could ask about this topic.  Use different question starters to help you!  See the file below.

Mind-Mapping or Brainstorming Tools: 

Question Starters: 

Find similar words, broader words, and narrower words for each of the keywords in your Research Question.  These will become your search terms.

Here's what to do:

  • Identify the keywords in your Research Question (underline or highlight them)
  • Insert these keywords into a "Search Term Chart" like the one below
  • Look-up these keywords in a dictionary or thesaurus


Research Question: What attitudes permitted slavery to exist in colonial Canada?

Search Term Chart:



Why can't I just "Google it?"

It is much harder to Stay Safe Online if you just "Google It."  Not all information found on the internet is reliable.

Almost anyone can post information on the internet.  Sometimes people want to sell you something, or they may not be telling you the truth about who they are.  

"On the internet nobody knows you're a dog."

By Peter Steiner in The New Yorker, 1993. 

Learn more by reading the Websites vs. VLC Databases handout below.

Gr. 7-8: Ask Us/Demande Moi

What's next?