Choosing a Topic

A topic should not be too broad nor should it consist of too many issues to be addressed effectively in one term paper. For example, if you choose a topic like "family" you need to determine at the beginning stage of your research what aspects of "family" you want to include and what aspects you want to exclude.

A search for books on the very broad topic "family" in WebPac (Library's Online Catalog), will show more than 35 related topics starting with: Broken homes, -Brothers and sisters, - Communication in the family, -Dual-career families,...and so forth. A search for articles on the topic "family" in one of the general databases like Academic Search Premier will give you more than 6,700 references to journal articles and more than 1,500 references to newspaper articles with more than 60 sub divisions.

Follow these steps when selecting a topic:

  • Start with the Library's Home Page. Select a database in your subject area or from the "general" subject area. 
  • Examine the titles under a broad subject area in a database or in the Online Catalog. 
  • Single out significant or critical issues with in the larger subject.
  • Do a brief literature search to determine if there is enough information on your chosen topic.
  • If there is enough information, then you are ready to start some serious searching. If there is not enough information on your topic, try picking out another significant or critical issue from the larger subject.

 

If at any time you need assistance, don't hesitate to ask a librarian.

 

Back to How to Research 

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