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You won't go anywhere without a topic. Choosing a good topic makes a huge difference in how well your writing
process will go. A good topic meets the requirements of the assignment,
intrigues you, and leads to an interesting thesis statement that can be
supported by reputable sources.
Sometimes your topic will be defined by the assignment, but often you'll need to pick a specific topic that falls under a wider heading, such as a current controversial issue.
Step 1: Get Ideas
- Your class readings or textbook can be a good source of ideas.
- For current topics, watch the news, or browse internet news sites, the newspaper, or news magazines.
- Stuck for ideas? Try one of these websites linked in the "Useful Links" box on this page.
Step 2: Get Background Information to Focus Your Topic
encyclopedias have a wealth of background information that can
provide you with a strong foundation upon which to build your research.
- Once you have a topic idea, it's time to focus your topic. You may need
to narrow or broaden your topic.
Step 3: Identify Search Terms and Strategy
- The library catalog, databases, and search engines don't answer your questions - they return search results. To get the best results, you need to enter good search terms.
- Identify the key concepts of your topic, then brainstorm other terms that are related to these key concepts.
ProCon.org - Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues
ProCon.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that has no government affiliations of any kind. Its purpose is to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias.
Handout on brainstorming from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brainstorming can help you choose a topic, figure out how to approach a topic, or help you realize the potential aspects of a topic.
Thesis Statements Handout
Handout on thesis statements from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill