RD 115 Information Literacy Project: Choose a Topic
Get Topic Ideas
When selecting an academic topic to explore, follow your curiosity. What do you want to learn more about? Something in the area of politics? culture? science? technology? human relationships? Here are some resources that will help you browse for a topic:
- Social trends - Pew Research Center
- Politics - New York Times political coverage
- Science developments - Science Daily
- Technology developments - Popular Mechanics
- International news -BBC
- Local issues - check out our Metro Portland and Oregon Research Guide
- Interesting and unusual research ideas - JSTOR Daily
For Christina Evans' Class - Share Your Topic
Turning an Interest into a Research Question
In this video, you’ll learn how to turn something you find interesting into a researchable question for a college research project.
Narrow Your Topic to a Research Question
Almost any broad topic you find interesting will work for starting your research. As part of the research process, you will explore this broad topic and find a focused issue within that topic that will work well for your academic research project. Examples:
Broad topic: music
Focused topic: What is the effect of music on learning in elementary school children?
Broad topic: vegetarianism
Focused topic: How does a vegetarian diet affect global warming?
Broad topic: extraterrestrial life
Focused topic: What evidence have astrobiologists found about the indicators of life in outer space?
Plan to take some time exploring your topic, and to be flexible about what your final research question will be. You may find that you will change your focus as you learn more about your topic and find new angles that interest you.
The library database SIRS Knowledge Source provides a method of drilling down from a broad, general topic to a specific one. Scroll down to the Browse all Pro/Con issues section to see the general subject areas and then click on one to view the more specific topics associated with it.
Sometimes mapping out the ideas and key concepts within your topic can help you narrow to a focused research question. This video will show you how to map your way to a focused question. You can also click here to see an example of a concept map done on a computer.