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Research Starter Toolkit

This guide will help you learn how to use library resources in order to complete your research. Here you will learn how to access library databases, journal articles, books, and more.

Developing Your Topic

While you want to choose a topic that interests and excites you, you also need to consider if your topic is a good "fit" for a research assignment. 

To determine if your topic is a good fit for your research assignment, here are some things to consider:

  • Is this topic specific or focused and clear?
  • Is the topic broad enough that I will find plenty of information on it?
  • Is the topic relevant or answer the question "Why should I care?"
  • Is it achievable or at an appropriate level of difficulty?
  • Does it satisfies your research assignment?


Research Topics to Avoid

It is easy to go overboard with really big ideas. Remember, a good topic can be addressed thoroughly within the parameters of your assignment. Generally, avoid single concept topics like:

  • Entire wars or conflicts
  • Social issues that are constantly discussed, like abortion or legalizing marijuana

Instead think about:

  • How a specific group was affected by a war, like children affected by the conflict in Syria
  • A specific element of a social issue, like how the criminalization of marijuana has affected black men

It is also easy to get an idea that is so focused it is essentially impossible to research. If you can't find a variety of reliable sources it may be too focused. Some examples are:

  • Why a little-known athlete is underrated.
  • How a single video game should receive more awards.

Instead think about:

  • The system that allows excellent athletes to be ignored despite excellent performance, using your athlete as one example.
  • The flaws in the system of evaluation for video games, using your game as one example.

Keep in mind that your instructor reads hundreds of research papers every year, and many of them are on the same topics (topics in the news at the time, controversial issues, subjects for which there is ample and easily accessed information). Stand out from your classmates by selecting an interesting and off-the-beaten-path topic. BE ORIGINAL!

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