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TESOL Resources

An introduction to the TESOL-related resources available to students, faculty, and staff at TWU.

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Setting up Your Computer for Research

Vintage Mac Clipart Japanese "Heaven and Earth" Scroll II: Earth. Enzan-Hoshigumi Co Ltd, Tokyo.

A graduate degree involves collecting and organizing large amounts of information. Setting up your computer so everything has a place is very important. Two folders of particular importance are your:

  • Downloads Folder – unless you've changed it, everything you download (in particular your article PDFs and citation file downloads) will end up there. Get in the habit of cleaning it out occasionally.
  • Documents Folder – this is where everything you want to keep should go and you should have organized your folders in a way that helps you to know where to put things and where things are. For each class and each project, you'll need a folder to keep your:
    1. references
    2. written drafts
    3. research source files, PDFs, scans, notes, etc.

Backup Plan

notebook computer

Computers are fragile and storage is cheap, but your time isn't, so:

Make a backup plan using one or more of

  • External hard drive
  • USB Flash drive
  • Offsite (at work, school or a friend's place) as well as at home
  • Cloud drive (Dropbox, Sync, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.)
  • E-mail attachments

More sophisticated ways of backing up include:

  • Incremental backups – as long as the drive is plugged in, it saves any changes at specified intervals
  • Clones – make a copy of your whole system

Use your calendar to send reminders.

You should at least back up your Documents folder, which has all of your key research.

Research Workflow

Researchable Topics

A researchable topic should - 

  1. be focused enough that it can be answered in the number of pages we have available.
    • For example:
      • NOT immersion education.
      • Better - Does early language immersion produce measurably better results than late language immersion?
  2. focus on one topic rather than going in multiple directions. 
    • For example:
      • NOT the effect of class size on student learning outcomes and how to write rubrics.
      • Better - Writing rubrics that effectively promote positive student learning outcomes.
  3. show clearly the direction the research will take.
    • For example:
      • NOT class size.
      • Better - Do smaller class sizes result in measurably better student learning outcomes?

Writing a Good Research Question/Thesis Statement

  • Includes example research questions, with initial search terms extracted. 

Example Search - A detailed description of how to set up a search.

Search Template - 

Formatting a Topic for Searching

Research Question:

Which form of instructor feedback on ESL/EFL student writing is most effective in improving student writing ability?

Once we have a workable research question, we need to format it so it we can use it to search a database.

Concept 1


Concept 2


Concept 3


Concept 4


esl OR efl OR tesl OR tesol OR L2





composition OR writing




"instructor feedback" OR "instructor comment*" OR "teacher feedback" OR "teacher comment*"




effective OR improve*

This tutorial shows how to set up a research question so we can effectively search an electronic article database.