LIBRARY RESEARCH ASSISTANCE

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FACULTY/STAFF > DEPARTMENTS & OFFICESLIBRARY > LIBRARY RESEARCH ASSISTANCE
Choosing a Topic & Background Research

A well-chosen topic can lay the foundation for a "grade A" research paper.

If you are assigned a topic, try focusing on a specific aspect of the topic that you find particularly interesting. This will not only help to focus your research and keep your search efforts manageable, but spark your creativity and aide you in developing your voice concerning the topic.

If you are able to choose your topic, select something that interests you!
Have you read something in the news that you would like to learn more about? Is there an issue relating to your chosen major or prospective career field that you would like to explore further? Is there something impacting your life (economically, medically, socially) that you might be interested in researching on a different level?

Be flexible. People will sometimes worry about whether there will be enough information on their topic. The availability of a large amount of articles about a topic is not always indicative of a good topic or a topic that will be easy to research. Finding too much information on a topic may be more of a common occurrence than not finding enough information. Neither situation should lead you to abandon your chosen topic though -- only to refine it. During the research process it is natural to adjust your topic.



Pay attention to assignment criteria
Remember that if locating and using scholarly journal articles is one of the requirements for your assignment, you need to pay careful attention to select a topic for which someone has actually conducted research. There are some topics that may not have any research-oriented aspect to them.

The following resources are helpful for beginning background research and for generating topic ideas:

Databases
Britannica Online
Issues & Controversies