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Finding a Topic
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.
- Choose something that interests you, something you feel passionate about, but also something you will be able to research and discuss objectively.
- Make sure your topic fits the requirements of the course.
Step 2: Get Background Information to Focus Your Topic
- Start by exploring your topic in a general resource, like Google Scholar, Opposing Viewpoints, or CQ Researcher.
- Once you have a topic idea, it's time to focus your topic. You may need to narrow or broaden your topic.
- Asking a good research question can help you identify exactly what you want to find.
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. For help identifying keywords, watch the short video in the box to the right.
Purdue OWL: Choosing a Topic
This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
This handout discusses techniques that will help you start writing a paper and continue writing through the challenges of the revising process. Brainstorming can help you choose a topic, develop an approach to a topic, or deepen your understanding of the topic’s potential.
University Writing Center
Schedule a session with a tutor at the University Writing Center.