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Writing Center Explore a Topic: Explore a Topic

Explore A Topic

Selecting a topic will help you narrow down what to research. Use the resources below to help you decide on a topic, narrow the topic if necessary, and to develop a question that guides your research

Topic selection

This resource offers strategies for selecting a topic and conducting initial research to see if the topic is appropriate for the scope of your assignment.

Consider the following techniques for topic selection:

  • Choose something of interest to you. Scan your textbook or other course readings for topic ideas or suggestions, draw on what you have read or seen recently that is of interest to you, or pick a topic that is relevant to your career or personal life.
  • Make a list of potential topics. Get at least 10 ideas down on paper. Then go back through your list and circle the three most relevant topics.​
  • Conduct pre-research to see what has been written about your potential topic. Choosing a topic that others have written about ensures you will be able to find enough resources. Good places to look for pre-research include reference books such as encyclopedias, Wikipedia, or general web searching. Use these sources to:
    • Gather overviews of topics and disciplines, histories of subjects, and established information in the field.
    • Locate brief descriptions for a topic that might lead you to further information sources. Look for keyword and subject-specific vocabulary that can be helpful for later, more complex searching.
    • Understand how your topic fits into a broader discipline or how multiple topics are interrelated.

Narrowing a topic

Sometimes, a research topic can be too much to cover for the scope of your assignment. This resources provides strategies for narrowing the scope of your topic to better align with the length requirements of your assignment.