The topics available for you to research are often dictated by various factors, such as assignments, classes, professors, or research agendas. However, even within these constraints, it is important to find a topic that grabs your interest.
If you have an open-ended assignment, browsing CQ Researcher can help you decide on a topic by giving you a jumping off point.
If you noticed, the first part of choosing a topic required you to do some background research. Sometimes researchers select a topic, and then try to research it, often much later.
This can lead to a few problems:
As a result, finding information can to be frustrating, and may yield results that are less than ideal.
The simple step of researching as a topic is selected can often make the entire process much easier. This can be done if you follow these steps.
When you are doing background research on your topic you want to consult reference sources. These can be encyclopedias found in the library or online; and yes, in this preliminary phase of research you can use Wikipedia. Never cite Wikipedia in an academic paper, but if you are deciding if a topic interests you, go for it. Just remember that Wikipedia is not consistent and while one entry might be accurate another one may not be.
Now that you’ve done background research, your topic should be clearer. It can help at this point to create a concept or mind map that demonstrates the interconnected aspects of the topic and how they relate to each other.
Use the aspects of the topic that are of most interest to you to ask a question that your research will answer. This question will guide your research, helping you to stay focused. It is often helpful to revisit your research question throughout the research and writing process in order to maintain that focus.
Example research questions:
As you can see, these questions take specific aspects of the broader topics of “obesity” and “fracking,” and narrows them both into focused queries that a thesis statement then begin to answer.