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Library Research 101: Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Research Topic Tutorial

Finding a Research Topic

 Start by thinking.  Your instructor may provide you with a selection of topic ideas. 

  • Select a topic that interests you.
  • Read some background information about your topic.  Good sources that provide overview and background information include encyclopedias, other reference books, and selected articles from collections such as "Issues and Controversies" that summarize a specific topic/research question.
  • State your research topic as a single sentence or question--what are you trying to find out?
  • Brainstorm keywords that describe your topic.

Narrowing a topic:

If you are describing your topic in one or two words, such as "crime," "education," or "smoking," it is too broad.  If you are finding hundreds of potential sources, your topic is too broad and poorly defined.  A good, manageable topic addresses a specific question or situation.

Try the sources listed below to browse for topic ideas:

Developing a workable research question

  • Browse your textbook and other class readings for topic ideas and suggestions
  • Draw on what you have read or seen in the news recently that interested you
  • Pick a topic relevant to your life--considering a career in healthcare?  Hoping to start your own business?  Interested in technology or animals?  Choose a topic that allows you to learn about something you can apply to your daily life.

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