to Find a Topic | Developing
Your Topic | Is
Your Topic Suitable?
If possible, choose a topic that interests you. There are
few things more difficult than trying to write about a topic
in which you have little or no interest.
Be sure your topic is neither too broad nor too narrow for
the assignment you have been given.
Check your assignment
due date to see how much time you have and the length
requirements to see how much you are expected to write.
You should do some preliminary checking for potential sources
before you decide on your topic. Choose a topic about which
there is likely to be information.
Make sure your instructor
approves your topic before you start your research.
to Find a Topic
There are a number
of different methods for finding a research topic. Depending
on the course you are taking and your specific assignment,
or all of the following suggestions may be useful:
Talk to your instructor.
Talk to a reference librarian. Librarians have a good idea
of which topics are suitable for library research.
Use sources recommended on What
Do I Write About?
Read your course outline to get an idea of the themes and
broad subjects covered by the course.
Scan your textbook(s) and any other required or suggested
Talk to friends and classmates.
Consult general and/or specialized encyclopedias and other
reference books that cover the subject area of your topic.
Read current newspapers and magazines; watch or listen to
the news on TV or radio.
Once you have chosen
a topic, you will need to develop it into a more specific
research question. In some cases, your instructor may require you
to write a thesis statement for your paper. The research question
or thesis statement provides the focus of your research; when
you are conducting your research, you should be constantly
asking yourself how the information you are gathering helps
to answer your research question or support your thesis statement.
following example illustrates the development of a research
question and thesis statement from a general topic.
Topic: Television violence
Research question: What effect does television
violence have on children?
Thesis statement: The depiction of violence in television
cartoons contributes to aggressive behavior among children
who watch these programs.
Your Topic Suitable?
After you have a
well-defined research question or thesis statement, you will
want to test the main concepts against the resources that
are available to you. In the example above, the main concepts
television violence, cartoon programs, children, and aggressiveness.
To test your topic, you would look up these concepts
in the library catalog, relevant periodical databases, and
find too much information, you may need to narrow certain
parts of your topic. If there appears to be too little information,
you may need to broaden your topic or, in some cases, discard
your topic and choose a new one.
the above thesis statement could be broadened to include
not only cartoons but all children's programs; or you could
adolescents along with children. If you needed to narrow
the topic, you could specify an age group, for example preschool
Reprinted & adapted with permission from
Ross Tyner's Electronic