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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Media Studies: 1. Explore your topic

Doing a Literature Review

Setting up your topic / research question

For an extensive introduction to writing research papers and setting up your topic / research question, read chapter 4 of the Handleiding Academische Vaardigheden 2.0 (in Dutch).

shallow focus photography of crowd taking videoIn setting up your research, you can use the "Schijf van vijf"-framework:

  1. What are you going to research? What is the specific phenomenon you want to explain, and with which case (object, corpus, sample survey) will you try to do this?
  2. Why do you want to explore this? What is your motivation and the scientific and social relevance of this research?
  3. Which specific question do you want to answer about this phenomenon? Do you have certain expectations about the answer, in other words do you have a hypothesis?
  4. Within which perspective, theory or model will you target your question?
  5. Which method are you going to use to answer your question? How will you go about it? What is your plan?

Explore your topic

You can explore your topic using

  • Reference works (check the reference works list on the right side of this page)
  • Books from the library on the phenomenon you want to research using the Utrecht entrance to Worldcat. For instance books on the genre, theory, artist, or era. 


Mindmapping is a nice technique  that can help you specify your research question. This video explains how.

What about Wikipedia?

In scholarly research, Wikipedia can be used for:

  • Initial exploration of a subject
  • Gaining ideas about search terms to be used
  • Finding out or checking facts, but please do a double-check
  • Literature references: often there are references to a small number of crucial publications
  • Source references: in the footnotes of many articles detailed source references can be found
  • As object of study: in what way is a subject written about in an influential reference work?
  • As quick translation tool, for words, but particularly for concepts for which mainstream (online) dictionaries offer no solution

Please bear in mind that the various language versions of Wikipedia may differ:  as a rule the larger versions (for instance the English version) is of a higher quality, because on average more people contribute to an article. Compare the article in the different language versions.

Another thing one can do is study the talk pages of an article. It shows the (low or high) level of discussion amongst editors. You can take that into account in your decision on how to use the information provided in the article.

Contrary to what is often thought, Wikipedia is a reference work with explicit rules, policy and control.

In the special LibGuide Wikipedia  more details, background information and examples of good Wikipedia-use.