WR 122 - Hills: Developing your topic

Strategic "Googling"

Using web searching to help you develop a topic can be incredibly useful.  Googling your topic and exploring the kinds of results that you get can help you get a good lay of the land. As you use Google to find sources, think about trying to locate professional, academic, and governmental organizations that focus on your topic; don't just haphazardly pick pages where your search terms show up.  Just remember that as you move toward greater focus in your research, you will want to move away from Google and toward more precise tools (like library databases).

Wikipedia will definitely come up in your search results.  Use the entries to increase your knowledge of a topic and to direct you to other potential sources but do not cite Wikipedia in your paper.

Background information - Library tools

Specialized encyclopedias like those contained in the sources mentioned below can be invaluable for exploring a topic.  Remember, encyclopedias are designed to give neutral background information.  

Places to begin for Essay #3

Qualities of a Good Topic

A good, researchable topic will be:

  • Focused: Remember, you're writing a 5+ page paper.  If you take on a topic that is very broad (eg. "feminism") you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed.
  • But not too focused: Likewise, if you narrow your focus too much, you might find that there aren't enough sources available to meet your four source requirement 
  • Interesting to you!
  • Controversial/arguable