Analyzing your area of research – Jewish Music

Once you have selected an area to research, the next step is to figure out where your area of research fits in to the existing literature.

A. Is your area of research too broad or too narrow?

What specific question or questions do you want to answer as you do your research? (i.e. what is your hypothesis or hypotheses? You may need to modify these as you do your research)

If your area of research is too broad you will be overwhelmed with too much information and will have trouble figuring out what to write about. Some areas of research might be fine if you were writing a full length book, but not practical for a 10 page paper. Try limiting your area of research in terms of time period, geography, or noteworthy individuals. You may want to explore some subset of your area of research.

If you have trouble finding any information on your topic at all, or can find only one or two articles or a brief mention of your topic in a book, then your area of research may be too narrow or focused. If this is the case, try taking a broader view of the area you are investigating.

Synagogue music - (too broad for a 10 page paper)
How do the musical transformations of the Reform hymnal reflect changes in American Reform Judaism?-
(this research question could be covered in a 10 page paper)

B. What disciplines might cover your area of research?

EXAMPLE:How do the musical transformations of the Reform hymnal reflect changes in
American Reform Judaism?
You might want to look at the literature within the following disciplines:
  • Music
  • History
  • American Studies
  • Religion

C. Dissect your research question into pieces or components. Try and think of all the possible areas you will want to explore in order to answer your research question.

  • Jewish music, hymnals, composed music, role of music in worship
  • Reform Judaism, American Reform, history of Reform, UAHC
  • Methodist musical history, Jewish and other religious revival in America
  • Changing tastes in worship and group singing