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ES 215 Research Methods Class Guide


For this class, you will need to put together a research proposal. To start you will need to locate at least 5 peer-reviewed sources. This guide is intended to help you do just that. 

Here's the basic steps for getting to those peer reviewed sources:

  1. Identify a topic. If necessary, take some time to map out the topic more fully and narrow it down to something manageable. See "Picking a Topic" below for examples.
  2. Develop keywords from your topic. For instructions on how to do this, see "Search Terms."
  3. Use the library databases to search using your keywords. Databases recommended for this class are SPORTDiscus and ScienceDirect. When using library databases, try out some of the search strategies detailed on this page.
  4. If you get stuck, try reworking your keywords and look for terms that others in the field are using for this topic.
  5. If you're still stuck, ask for help!
    1. Email me directly at or for more immediate response, email
    2. Chat with us through our website. Simply hit the speech bubble at the bottom right of the page. If it's red, that means that someone is online and ready to chat.
    3. Set up an appointment for a research consultation:

Picking a Topic

It can be really easy to pick a random topic for your assignment, but it can be difficult to develop it to the point where it is usable for a paper.

For example, if I wanted to write a research paper on soccer, that would be far too broad to feasibly write about for any assignment. For a topic like soccer, I would need to narrow down my topic. Topics pertaining to soccer could be:

  • The prevalence of ACL tears in soccer among women
  • An evaluation of the effect that headbutting a soccer ball might have on players
  • The health benefits of recreational soccer for untrained individuals
  • An exploration into the preventative measures professional soccer players take against injuries
  • An analysis into the likelihood of concussions in soccer versus other sports
  • [...]


There are a plethora of strategies for brainstorming: free writing, concept mapping, etc. The links below highlight each strategy, so you can find the one that fits with your mode of thinking.

Whatever your strategy don't forget to review what your professor has asked for you to do, so you can make sure that your topic is appropriate for the assignment.

Focusing a Topic

Assignments often are written with a subject in mind, but are often too broad to work as a single topic for your project. You still need to choose a unique aspect of that subject in which to specialize your research. To do this you may want to:

  • Look at class notes: is there anything that has been discussed in class that has piqued your interest?
  • Review your textbooks: what important points have been brought up in the text that you can expand on?
  • Look at specialized encyclopedias: Our reference collection has a ton of encyclopedias that specialize on a specific discipline or topic. Browse through the entries to see if there’s anything you may want to research more in-depth.

Below are some additional resources to get you started.