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Finding a Topic

Define your topic Coming up with a topic for your paper can sometimes be the hardest or most frustrating part of the research process

Understand the assignment
Is it an assigned topic or can it be one of your own choosing?
How many pages should it be?
Are you required to use certain types of materials, such as scholarly articles?

Keep your question clear and open-ended
Unless you're writing a book or dissertation, think about how much you can cover in a research paper.

Select something that interests you!
If possible, choose a topic that you find interesting and that you want to know more about.

Boolean Search Tutorial

Boolean search tutorial

Click the image above
or this link to a Boolean Search Tutorial on how to use AND, OR, & NOT effectively while searching.

Power of Keywords!

Divide your topic into a few main concepts:

  • Words for main or key concepts in your topic are keywords.
  • They'll be important once you start searching, especially if your first search attempts don’t find much that’s useful.

Sample topic: Is memory loss related to aging?

The keywords are memory loss & aging


List the related terms for each keyword:

memory loss: alzheimers,amnesia,forgetfulness aging: aged,old age,elderly


Expand your list of keywords to expand your results:

  • Words in some fields can be very different from standard everyday, popular usage.
  • Scan reference sources, subject headings, and article abstracts to find additional or new terms to expand your list.