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Pharmacology Research Project Guidance: Analysing the Literature and Referencing

Help, resources and links to guide you through your research project.

It is normal in a research project to do some scoping of the available literature to see whether the project is feasible, for example is there enough literature and evidence to support what I want to do? Are there existing methods I can use, build upon, or adapt? Importantly this initial investigation helps you pinpoint the gap in the existing research that your project will (hopefully) fill.

See the other pages in this section for more guidance analysing the literature and referencing:

Getting started

It is always a little daunting to start a larger research project, but a good place to start is to ask yourself:

  • Why is my topic interesting and worth investigating?
  • What do I need to find out about my topic?
  • Where can I find this information out – what sources do I need to look at?

For more on this see the short video tutorial on starting research for your dissertation:

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Starting research for your dissertation video on YuJa (University username and password required)

Identifying your research question

As you read more, you will hopefully start to identify more specific areas or angles within your topic that are interesting and that you want to follow up; one of these may turn into your eventual research question.

Finding a research question may take some trial and error, so don’t panic if you don’t hit on the question straight away. Take some time to read and explore.

A top tip for finding a research question is to ask yourself questions about what you have found out. The kinds of questions to ask yourself, once you have done some initial reading, may include:

  • What has been found out already about my topic?
  • What is left to find out / where is more research needed?
  • What do researchers agree about in relation to my topic?
  • What do researchers disagree about in relation to my topic?
  • What methods do people use to investigate my topic?
  • What methods are more favoured, and why?
  • Can the methods or process be applied to another related area? (e.g. another similar enzyme / gene etc)
  • Where are the barriers to progress or challenges in my topic? Why?

For more on this watch this short video tutorial on defining a research question:

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Defining a research question video on YuJa (University username and password required)

There is also a section on going from a topic to a research question in the following study guide: