How can I select or narrow my research topic?

Answered By: Erin Weber
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2020     Views: 4

Picking your topic IS research, and it's an important step in the process!

For some assignments, you may be given an overarching topic and you are expected to focus on some part of that. For others, you may be able to choose whatever you want. Use these resources to explore topics!

Browzine: This is a collection of scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Select your subject area and topic, and click on a few journal titles to see what kind of articles have been written recently. 

News Sources Research Guide: Newspapers can be a great source of topic ideas, particularly for current events and position papers. Check out this Research Guide. Search in a few of the news databases or use the NewsBank "Search Articles" widget on the left side of your screen.

Encyclopedias: Reference works can help you explore topics and get background information. This link represents only a small subset of encyclopedias we have, some online and some in print. For example, click on Gale Virtual Reference Library for digital encyclopedias in fashion, pop culture, personal finance, education, sustainability, Ancient Greece, forensic science, addictive behaviors, and MORE! Chat or text us if you need help finding an encyclopedia in your area.

Things to keep in mind:

  • What kind of information is out there?
  • What are you interested in?
  • What is a quality, new topic or position?
  • Skim - spend only a minute or two reading the title and abstract/summary to see if you're interested in pursuing the topic


The librarians can help you get started with brainstorming, background research, and choosing a topic.
Let us know how we can help!


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