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Research Fundamentals: Topics

Selecting a Topic

Selecting a topic can be the most important and most difficult step of your research project. An ideal topic:

  1. Is interesting to you. You'll be spending some time with this topic, so pick something you're curious about.
  2. Meets the requirements of your assignment. Are there topics you cannot use? Is there a theme or subject area you should choose from? Does your instructor want to approve your topic first?
  3. Is researchable. Keep source requirements in mind when you select a topic. If your instructor requires you to use books, you may not be able to use a local current event, for example, as your research topic.

Working with Your Topic

Research is the process of finding answers to questions. If your topic is simply a word or phrase ("microaggressions" or "sustainability"), you're not ready to research. First, you need to turn your topic into a research question.

What do you want to know about your topic? What questions do you have or do you think your audience will have?

Use journalistic questions (Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How) to get started.


Resources for Finding a Topic

If you're feeling stuck for a good idea, start with one of these resources. Simply browse around until a topic catches your attention!

Other brainstorming sources include the news, Wikipedia, your friends, and magazines - a topic is only ever as good as the work you put into researching it.

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  • Last Updated: Jun 28, 2020 10:20 PM
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