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Select a Topic
Step 1a: There are different scenarios when it comes to selecting a topic: 1) Choosing a topic you know well; 2) Choosing a topic you know nothing about; or 3) Choosing a topic you have an interest in, but you don't know where to begin.
But are you really, truly stumped? Can’t think of a topic to research? Try one of these ideas to get started:
- Scan your textbook for broad topic ideas.
- Peruse current magazines, newspapers and journals to see what catches your eye.
- Browse print and electronic encyclopedias.
- Look at "hot topic" databases, such as Opposing Viewpoints, which feature articles on current events and controversial issues.
- Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian or a classmate.
The Research Assignment
Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand your assignment and its requirements. Consider the following:
- Have you been assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
- How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
- Do you need to include specific types of sources? (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)
- When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
- Is currency of information important?
When in doubt, consult with your instructor.