Research is an exploration of a topic that sometimes leads you to a different place than where you started. This is not only OK, it’s exactly what research is about. Research is NOT about having an opinion and finding sources that say what you want them to say.
Start with some background reading to familiarize yourself with the topic and the jargon surrounding the topic — those are your keywords. Then see what we have in our catalog. Is it enough to base your project on? Or do you need to rethink? On the other hand, there may be more information than you can handle so you might have to narrow it down.
Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Applied Research Project: Consider topics that support the strategic goals of the U.S. Fire Administration, are relevant to your organization, and relate to the EFO course content (EFO Handbook, p. 15).
Managing Officer capstone project: Select a topic that will allow you to apply concepts learned in the program toward the solution of a problem in your home district.
The table below illustrates how a research question develops from a broad topic to a focused question. Follow the four examples down the columns to see how the questions develop.
|Broad topic||Pollution||Substance abuse||Marketing||Nutrition|
|Restricted topic||Acid rain||Alcoholism||Nike and marketing||Diets and nutrition|
|Narrowed topic||Acid rain and water quality||Alcoholism and homelessness||Nike and international marketing||Vegetarianism|
|Research question||What does acid rain do to drinking water supplies?||What issues need to be addressed to help homeless people deal with alcoholism?||What are Nike’s business practices in international sales?||How does a vegetarian diet maintain adequate nutrition?|