Choosing a topic is one of the first things you need to do when researching.
If you have a list of suggested paper topics, look through the list and see if any in particular stand out to you. What sounds interesting? What do you want to learn more about? If not, scan your textbook lecture notes, and the news for topic ideas.
Tip: Pick a few topics you want to explore further and then find background information and refine your topic to see if you want to continue down that path. If not, try out a different topic until you find one you like.
Once you've picked a topic(s) that sounds interesting, start learning more about it. Try the following:
Tip: This information is not meant to support your arguments or form the bulk of your assignment. Instead it is to help you learn more about your topic so you are ready to do more in-depth research.
Even once you have decided what topic you want to pursue, you will likely need to refine your topic.
Try asking yourself the 5 W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why
Start thinking about what specifically you want to investigate or argue.
Tip: It is okay to have multiple ideas or directions you wish to pursue. Make sure you keep an open mind and are willing and able to modify your topic as you continue researching.
Creating a research question will take your refined topic and turn it into a question your assignment will attempt to answer. Examples of research questions include:
This will help keep you focused as you begin searching for information.
Tip: When you are evaluating your sources, you'll want to check that the source will help answer this question, in other words, its relevancy.