How do I choose a topic that works for my paper (or presentation)?
Answered By: Stormye Hendrix
Last Updated: Dec 06, 2017

Trying to decide what to write about can be difficult and even frustrating.  But picking and adjusting your topic is an integral part of the research process.  Sometimes instructors will assign a specific topic, others will ask you to select a topic that interests you.  It is up to you to determine the right focus and the right approach to take.

When you are choosing your topic, you will need to:

  • Brainstorm for ideas:  Review the syllabus and assignment, go over the information on topic selection outlined in your assignment.  Ask your professor or TA for suggestions.
  • Find and read general background information: Refer to lecture notes and required texts to refresh your knowledge of the course and assignment. Scan current magazine, journal or newspaper articles on related subjects or possible topics.  
  • Choose a manageable and interesting topic:  There is more motivation to do a research assignment if there is genuine interest in the topic.
  • Be flexible:  your topic may narrow or broaden as you research and read more.  That’s ok, it all part of the process.
  • Define a focused research question
  • Research and refine


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