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The Research Process: Develop a Topic

A tutorial on doing research that gets the results you want.

Steps in Developing a Topic

Developing a good topic that leads to a strong research paper is often the most difficult part of the research process. Try one of these links if you're in need of help:

  • Select a Topic
  • Develop Research Questions
  • Identify Keywords
  • Refine Your Topic

Developing Research Topics

Developing a Topic

Need help with finding a topic to research?

  • Look at your textbook for general subjects
  • Browse current magazines and journals related to your major
  • Look at print and electronic encyclopedias
  • Try "hot topics" databases such as Opposing Viewpoints
  • Ask your instructor, a classmate or librarian to help you find a good topic

The Research Assignment

Before selecting a topic or starting your research, make sure you understand your assignment and its requirements. Consider the following:

  • Have you been assigned a topic or can you pick your own?
  • How many pages/words do you need to write? How long is your presentation?
  • Do you need to include specific types of sources? (e.g. scholarly journal, book, etc.)
  • When is the assignment due? How much time do you have to research?
  • Is currency of information important?

When in doubt, consult with your instructor.