Thomas S. Mullaney and Christopher Rea, "Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project That Matters to You (and the World)" (U Chicago Press, 2022)


The hardest part of research isn't answering a question. It's knowing what to do before you know what your question is. Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project That Matters to You (and the World) (University of Chicago Press, 2022) tackles the two challenges every researcher faces with every new project: How do I find a compelling problem to investigate--one that truly matters to me, deeply and personally? How do I then design my research project so that the results will matter to anyone else?

This book will help you start your new research project the right way for you with a series of simple yet ingenious exercises. Written in a conversational style and packed with real-world examples, this easy-to-follow workbook offers an engaging guide to finding research inspiration within yourself, and in the broader world of ideas.

Read this book if you (or your students):

  • have difficulty choosing a research topic
  • know your topic, but are unsure how to turn it into a research project
  • feel intimidated by or unqualified to do research
  • worry that you're asking the wrong questions about your research topic
  • have plenty of good ideas, but aren't sure which one to commit to
  • feel like your research topic was imposed by someone else
  • want to learn new ways to think about how to do research.

Thomas S. Mullaney is professor of history at Stanford University and a Guggenheim fellow. His books include The Chinese Typewriter: A History and Your Computer is on Fire. 

Christopher Rea is professor of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia. His books include Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949 and The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China.

Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin).

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Caleb Zakarin

Caleb Zakarin is the Editor of the New Books Network.

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