Research Help

Getting Started

Choosing a topic is the first and maybe the most important step of the research and writing process! This step will determine the rest of your steps -- what your thesis statement is, what sources you use, and how to write your paper. So it's important to make sure you choose a strong and engaging topic.

Strategies for finding a topic:

  • Look over the index and the article titles in a subject-specific encyclopedia that covers a relevant subject area or discipline. Check out our print collection available in the Information Commons. (Additional sources can be found by searching the catalog for titles in the general collection.)
  • Spend some time looking at major journals in your field (look for the white binder in the reading room for a list of current periodicals by subject).
  • Browse your subject area in one of our digital reference sources.
  • Discuss topic ideas with your instructor or favorite reference librarian!

Good questions to ask yourself when choosing a topic are:

  • Is this a topic that interests me?
  • Is this a topic that is creative and has not been overdone?
  • Is this a topic that is not too broad or too narrow to meet the assignment requirements?

Choosing a Topic

When you pick your topic, it's not set in stone. Picking and adjusting your topic is an integral part of the research process!

How to Develop a Good Research Topic

Need Help Choosing a Topic?

Sometimes it can be difficult to think up a great research topic. Have no fear -- Taylor Library is here to help! Check out these database and websites to get some ideas.

Next Steps

Once you have a topic in mind:

  • Consider first the broad subjects that deal with your topic.
  • Narrow this down, keeping your topic in mind.
  • Focus closer: limit your topic to specifics, such as geography, time, and culture.
  • Write down topic phrases; this helps you come up with key words and questions that will help you in your research.

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