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Current physics topics highly debated over?

  1. Apr 3, 2012 #1
    Hi, I am an undergrad in physics, I have to develop some sort of research question for a up and coming paper but I am having problems deciding on a physics issue currently relevant and highly debated. Here is the summary provided by my teacher on what we should be doing. I have asked some of my physics professors about topics and some issues with in those topics but they really haven't been much help. Any help would be much appreciated!

    Here is the outline for the paper,

    Writing Project Three – Research Question

    The last two writing projects were designed to help you become familiar with your field. By now, you should know how your field started and evolved, what scholars are currently researching, and the conventions of their scholarship. For this writing project, you have the opportunity to use what you know to construct a research project of your own.

    First, you’ll need to decide upon a research question. Ask yourself, from what you have learned thus far, talking with professors and reading scholarly articles, what topics are you most interested in, affect you in a personal way, intrigue or irritate you, making you want to learn more? “Topics” are already defined areas of study that are too broad to determine a research question. For example, “global warming” is a topic. If you decided to make your research question, “How do we end global warming?” you would most likely find yourself overwhelmed and lost with the amount of information speaking to that question. Therefore, identify your topic, but then dig deeper.

    Do an informal Google or Wikipedia search to see what the public is saying about it. Do a formal academic search through the library’s search engines to find out what scholars are saying. From these searches, you should have a good idea of what is being talked about and what is not. At this point, you should be able to narrow down your topic to an issue. An “issue” is a specific element of a topic. With global warming, it might be, “How ought the homeowners of Hazleton attract solar energy in a manageable, efficient, and affordable way?” Notice how narrow this research question is. The more you can narrow down your question, the more doable your project will be. Notice the narrowing elements, people (homeowners), place (Hazleton), thing (solar energy, as opposed to wind or water, etc.), action (attract solar power), scope (manageable, efficient, affordable, meaning these will be the only areas the research question promises to answer).

    Once you have your research question, you’ll need to locate and annotate twelve to fifteen sources that speak to your question. The research process is not linear as some may think, meaning, you don’t necessarily come up with a research question and then find articles and annotate them. The process is recursive. You may come up with a question and find some articles and read them and then change your question, narrow it, find some more articles, adjust your issue again, find some more, and so on. This recursivity is not only common, but is considered to be, dare I say, how we learn. Therefore, start early and give yourself plenty of time to read and research and refocus. In other words, you may read more than fifteen sources, as some will not be what you’ll need or will not directly speak to your question as others might. Again, give yourself plenty of time for this project.

    In short, for this project, you will invent a research question and compose an annotated bibliography of 12-15 scholarly sources that directly speak to that question. Each annotation should be a half page to a page, single-spaced, depending upon the length of the source, putting the page length for this project at 6-15 pages.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2012 #2
    I wonder if topics in physics are very suitable to this kind of treatment... The debate about some current topic is probably going to be rather technical and not easy to get into.
    If it has to be physics, one thing that comes to mind is the recent result from the OPERA experiment that measured neutrinos at speeds > c, although the debate seems pretty much settled now you'll probably still find a bunch of recent papers about it.
    Anyway, it's probably easier to discuss some experimental results rather than the merits of some new theoretical model.
  4. Apr 5, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the suggestion.
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