Choosing a research topic can be a challenging experience; if you don’t choose a good topic, it can make the entire research process frustrating. On the other hand, if you choose your topic wisely, the entire research process will be made easier.
With that in mind, here are some general tips to keep in mind when choosing your topic.
Start thinking about possible topics early
Throughout the quarter, make a note of topics or readings that are particularly interesting. Don’t leave it until the last minute, when it may be more difficult to remember class discussions that piqued your interest. The longer you have to consider possible topics, the longer you have to come up with something brilliant.
Choose something that you are interested in
You are going to be spending a lot of time researching your topic and then writing about it. Choose something that you are interested in and want to learn more about. If you are interested in your topic, your project will not only be easier to complete, but it will also be more meaningful to you.
Understand the Assignment
Before you choose a topic, you need to clearly understand the assignment requirements. How long will the final paper be? What types of sources are you expected to use: scholarly journals or popular sources? What should the voice of the paper be: objective or subjective? Ask your instructor for clarification if you have any questions.
Review Sources for Ideas
You can get ideas for topics by taking a look at other sources in the area. Try looking at class notes and readings, popular magazines and newspapers, and online resources. CQ Researcher, for example, is a database of hot-topic issues that may give you ideas for your research.
Gather background information
Once you have a general idea for a topic, it is time to gather some background information. This will help you to learn more about your topic and help you to brainstorm keywords for your search. Sources such as encyclopedias are good for background information; try Credo Reference, which is located on the library homepage, under the Encyclopedias & More tab.
Your topic will probably change as you go along
As you start to research your initial topic, you may have to narrow or broaden your scope. You may find something even more interesting as you go along. It is a normal part of the research process to alter and refine your topic; so stay flexible.
Armed with these strategies, you will be well on your way to choosing a successful research topic.
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