Defining your Topic
Choosing a Topic
When choosing a topic, select one that:
- genuinely interests you.
- is relevant to the class/assignment.
- is significant enough to warrant further investigation.
- you can reasonably cover in the time and space available to you.
For help finding topics that interest you, some places to start are CQ Researcher, Issues and Controversies on File, Today's Science on File, or Medline Plus. These resources provide general background information on a variety of current events, as well as issues in science and health.
Finding Background Information
To begin the research process, you should gather background information about your topic. This will help give you an overview of your topic and a sense of how this topic relates to other issues. Additionally, this will introduce you to specialized vocabulary related to your topic.
Specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries are good resources to consult. They cover more specific topics on one given subject area than you would find in a general encyclopedia that would have one article about an entire subject area. These articles often have bibliographies, which can lead you to more information about the topic. Specialized dictionaries define specific vocabulary related to a topic in detail. These types of sources are often found in the reference section at the library.
Search engines like Google and sites like Wikipedia also can help you find basic information about your topic. However, it is always important to consider the source, so take some time to carefully evaluate the information that you find.
If you need help finding sources like these or other background materials, ask a librarian.