The decision to undertake a research project is both exciting and daunting, especially when considering where and how to begin. But breaking a project down into smaller parts makes it less overwhelming and at the same time brings focus to the individual parts in the process of discovering how they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. 

How do we start research? What are the building blocks that will take us from the beginning to the end? How do we translate a general interest in a particular area into a research project? 


  • Identify the different components of a research project 
  • Understand how to find a research topic

Time and Materials

90 mins 

  • Flip chart papers
  • Markers (different colors)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Old Magazines
  • Colored paper 
  • Coloring pens

Cut the printed copies (according to  the number of groups) of Handout 15: Elements of a Research Project into pieces so that the titles and explanations are all separate pieces.  


Warm-up (10 minutes):

We ask participants about what they think the building blocks of a research project are and what the necessary components of a research project might be. What makes up a research project?


Group Work (30 minutes):

Participants are split into 3 or 4 groups. Each group is given the cut up pieces of Handout 15: Elements of a Research Project (containing the titles of the main research project building blocks and their explanation) in a random order. Racing against each other, each group tries to match the titles with the respective explanation in the shortest amount of time. 

When all groups finish, they present their results and discuss the matched pairing. 

Distribute Handout 16: Finding a Topic  to each group to read and consider how a research project may start. We give 10 mins for reading.


Group Work (30 minutes):

Each group works on imagining a research project starting from the subject and topic. The group thinks about the significance of this topic and explains the envisioned research and dissemination process.  

Each group presents its work using the collage technique (cutting and pasting pieces from newspapers, magazines, and papers to make one document) to show how they envision the research project would unfold.  


Group Presentations (20 minutes):

We get to know the research ideas through a gallery walk. We go around the room to check out different maps and encourage participants to ask questions to the groups and discuss their maps and ideas.

Notes and Tips for the Facilitator

  • Keep the maps on the wall for the session Formulating your Research Question. We inform participants that we will get to formulate a research question and that at the end of our journey we will discuss dissemination in more depth. 
  • If your group is undertaking a research project, this would be a good time to divide participants in groups and work on their actual research (formulating their subject, topic, and envision dissemination ideas).
  • If your group is not undertaking a research project, it is still important to set a research subject and topic, as there will be used in session Formulating a Research Question, Creating a Narrator Pool.
  • An example for a research map: a group might want to choose a preliminary subject (i.e. the violent conflict in Lebanon between 1975-1990), and consequently choose a topic (women combatants) and point out its significance (fills the gap in the record). They might think that necessary research would mean looking at related (films, books, articles, websites, family members, etc.). And finally, they might give ideas on dissemination (installation exhibition with photographs and extracts of the interviews).
  • Collage is a technique of presenting and forming paintings from clippings, magazines, newspapers, and different papers, by cutting various parts and collecting them on a sheet of paper that forms a painting that explains different topics through these images.
  • This session relates to session Formulating a Research Question, Narrator Selection, Creating a Narrator Pool, Analysis of (Oral) Historical Sources, Dissemination: Into and Out of the Archives.

Sources and Further Reading