Trying to find and decide on a topic can often be complicated and frustrating. Your professor may provide a general topic on which to base your assignment but often you will be required to focus on some aspect of that topic.e to edit.
[Credit: University of Cincinnatti Libraries on YouTube]
- Course material: Refer to your assignment for general topic guidance; review course notes and textbooks.
- Brainstorming: take the general topic and create a concept map. From there you may find some aspect of the topic you would like to explore.
- Try to pick a topic that is broad enough to find plenty of research materials, but narrow enough to handle in the length of paper you have been assigned. You can then gradually narrow it down to a specific aspect of that topic that interests you, such as focusing on a particular place, person(s), event, and/or time.
- Consider discussing your specific topic ideas with your teacher or one of our librarians.
- Choose an interesting topic. You’ll have more motivation to do a research assignment if there is genuine interest in the topic. If the research assignment is unrestricted, relate the topic to some personal experience or issue of personal relevance. If you have no personal interest in the assigned topic, pick an aspect of the topic you are curious to know more about.
After choosing a topic, you will need to locate sources that give basic background information about the subject. Finding background information at the beginning of your research is especially important if you are unfamiliar with the subject area, or not sure from what angle to approach your topic. Some of the information that a background search can provide includes:
- Broad overview of the subject
- Definitions of the topic
- Introduction to key issues
- Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
- Major dates and events
- Keywords and subject-specific search terms
- Bibliographies that lead to additional resources