Developing a good research topic is an important skill. An instructor may assign you a specific top, but often instructors require you to select your own topic of interest. When deciding on a topic, there are a few things that you will need to do:
Step 1: Brainstorm for Ideas
Choose a topic that interests you. The following questions will help you generate topic ideas:
Be aware of overused ideas when deciding on a topic. It's best to avoid topics like abortion, gun control, teen pregnancy, or suicide, unless you have a unique approach to the subject. If you're stuck, ask your instructor, friends, or family for ideas. The librarian can also assist you with brainstorming ideas.
Step 2: Read General Background Information
Step 3: Focus on Your Topic
Keep it manageable
If your topic is too broad or too narrow, it will be very difficult to research. Some ways to limit your topic are (we'll use "the environment" as our topic):
Example: What environmental issues are most important in the Southern United States?
Example: How does the environment fit into the Coushatta world view?
Example: What are the most prominent environmental issues of the last 10 years?
Example: How does environmental awareness impact business practices?
Example: What are the effects of air pollution on senior citizens?
Step 4: Make a List of Useful Keywords
Keep track of the words used to describe your topic.
Step 5: Be Flexible
Modifying your topic during the research process is common. You may find too much information and need to narrow your focus, or too little information and need to broaden your focus. This is a normal part of the research process.
Other things to keep in mind:
Your instructor will provide more specific requirements, but the information above will help you to stay focused and on task.
Step 6: Define Your Topic as a Focused Research Question
Your research will often begin with a keyword. Develop a more focused interest in that word, then create questions around that word.
Step 7: Research and Read More About Your Topic
Use the keywords you have gathered to conduct research in the OPAC and databases.
Before settling on your topic, you will need to do some research to determine if there's enough information to answer your research question.
Step 8: Formulate a Thesis Statement
Write your topic as a thesis statement. Your thesis statement may be the answer to your research question and/or a way to clearly state the purpose of your research.
Remember to follow the specific directions provided by your instructor for how to write your research paper. The information provided here is only to be used as guidelines.